The majority of school superintendents who responded to a new survey by the New York State School Boards Association said they planned to lay off teachers and support staff, increase class sizes, reduce or eliminate athletics and extracurricular activities, defer maintenance and cut extra help for students because of proposed cuts in state education aid.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is recommending a $1.5 billion cut to the funding, and the Assembly and Senate one-house budget resolutions would add back a few hundred thousand dollars. The 2011-12 state budget is due in a week, and the governor and legislators have to close a $10 billion budget gap. The new fiscal year begins April 1.
“For weeks we have been hearing about what will happen and who is to blame, much of it overheated rhetoric and some of it downright misleading,” the association’s Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said in releasing the survey. “We felt it was time to look at the cold, hard facts – what are school leaders actually planning to do if Gov. Cuomo’s proposed aid cuts are adopted. It is grim news. But, it is something New Yorkers need to know before lawmakers and the governor complete work on a new budget. Cutting the state budget has a dramatic negative impact on local school districts.”
Forty-seven percent of the state’s 679 school superintendents responded to the survey. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they would have to lay off teachers and 82 percent said they would have to cut non-teaching staff. Their totals were 3,290 teachers and 2,714 non-instructional employees. Eighty-seven percent plan to tap undesignated reserve funds, and the same percentage said they would use federal Education Jobs money that was approved last year.
Other findings include:
— 76 percent plan to increase class sizes.
— 72 percent plan to reduce or eliminate extracurricular activities/athletics.
— 59 percent plan to defer maintenance.
— 47 percent plan to reduce or eliminate summer school.
Fifty-percent of the respondents said they would seek to freeze or cut spending, but 85 percent said they would have to seek a property-tax increase.
“This may give fodder to those who are pushing for a property tax cap, but what the public needs to realize is that school districts are forced to bear ever-increasing costs over which they have little or no control,” Kremer said.
These are the full survey results: