Super: schools should close

Schalmont District considers closing Mariaville and Woestina to save money

Two elementary schools in the Schalmont Central School District could be closing their doors in an effort to close the budget gap for the upcoming school year.

Schalmont Superintendent Valerie Kelsey's draft budget, presented at the end of January, calls for the closing of Mariaville and Woestina elementary schools to save the district $1.4 million. The would leave open only one elementary school, Jefferson, and the district would still need to find an additional savings of $1 million through cuts.

Our parents and our community want educational programs for our students, and that is our No. 1 priority, and somehow we have to balance that all, said Kelsey. "School closings are probably the most difficult decision a school district has to make. We have two schools that have great history and culture. What we have to do as a school district is to look at what is best for the students in our district."

The tax cap proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which the Senate recently passed, would impose a cap of 2 percent or at the rate of inflation, whichever is less. That cap would mean Schalmont could only bring in an additional $572,000 in revenue for the following year. The district's 2009-10 budget came in at about $42.3 million.

Also in Cuomo's proposed budget, announced Tuesday, Feb. 1, state funding for schools would drop 7.3 percent, but the local effect wasn't yet clear to Kelsey. Typically, she said, the Schalmont is on the higher end of the scale since aid is based on the wealth of residents in the district.

"I think we are following a path that the governor would say was good," said Kelsey on Tuesday, Feb 1. "I felt that in order to maintain programs for our district we had to look at schools closing. There is a lot of cost in maintaining structures."

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