School should reduce more expenses
A letter supportive of the Worcester school building project, staff and students was published April 12. The writer described her positive persona and its benefits. The critical letters written to the editor about Worcester's capital project are accurate, factual and informative, but to her that's negative. The positive writer omits mentioning that her spouse and members of her immediate family are school employees, dependent on the school taxpayers for their livelihood. She has nearly 150,000 reasons to be positive about the school.
The education system, with its numerous costly mandates and gimmicks to bloat school expenses and employment, must be brought into check. The costs passed onto the taxpayers have reached the breaking point at local, state and federal levels. How many school budget voters are not property-owning taxpayers?
Taxpayers have no input on the budget items that encompass the lion's share of school expenses. They're just obligated to pay them or lose their property. When they speak out, vote no or are critical, they are labeled negative. With the average median household income in Otsego county $33,000, one has to wonder how long the current system will exist. Each year there are substantial increased numbers of forfeited delinquent tax properties. This past year's 20 to 26 percent school tax increase will undoubtedly accelerate the list of lost homes.
Businesses use cost-saving measures continually to remain solvent and survive.
The steady declining enrollment should lead to reduction in staff and facility size requirements. However, the state education system leveraged and conditioned a majority of the public to allow increased staffing and facilities. WCS enrollment has dropped from more than 600 to 400. While supporting enlargement of the school building and spending more than $32 million, how can anyone in the right frame of mind refer to themselves as positive?
Area schools should merge
It seems clear that the governor and state Legislature are not fond of small, rural school districts in upstate New York. Cuts in state aid resulted in school budgets that were often smaller than the year before, and yet still needed large cuts to reach tax increases that residents could reluctantly swallow. If these state practices continue, it may mean the end of small school districts such as Jefferson, Stamford and South Kortright.
I propose merging the three school districts into one of about 1,100 students, grades kindergarten to 12. The Jefferson building would become a K through eighth-grade school, as would the South Kortright facility. This would limit the bus trip time for younger students, with perhaps Route 23 (north or south) determining the building they attend. The Stamford building (because of its central location) would be the grade nine through 12 high school. No new building project would be needed.
This would eliminate the need for two superintendents and their secretarial staffs, two business managers and two guidance counselors and their secretaries, and it would eliminate many costly BOCES services that could be handled locally. An "economy of scale" would result in lower cafeteria, transportation, supply and instructional costs. The board of education would consist of three members from each community (total nine) and the district would have a new name _ something like Western Catskill Central School District.
Most importantly, this new district would be large enough to offer its students the programs needed for a quality education, one that would prepare them to compete in an ever-more challenging world, without bankrupting the residents of the area.
I realize this merger would require a lot of planning, compromise, time and effort, but now is the time to start. The handwriting is on the wall.
Lyle R. Chastaine