Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 27, 2014

District facing budget deficit

Niagara Gazette — Facing an expanded gap of roughly $7 million heading into 2014-15 school year, Niagara Falls City School District officials presented a list of four plans to fix and preserve an education plan Thursday.

But it’s clear, given the least number of possible layoffs under a favorable scenario that was admittedly unlikely, the district is facing some extremely tough decisions before a budget is adopted for voter approval in May.

“This has been the most depressing year yet,” school board President Russell Petrozzi said. “We were expecting a fair deal this year, but it hasn’t come. The lack of funding from the state continues with no thought of taking care of the (students). It’s going to be a very difficult budget year and there’s going to be cuts.”

Most notably on the chopping block appears to be at least 10 teaching positions, which is what the most favorable scenario proposes. Relying on New York state providing an additional $1.2 million in funding once the legislature and governor complete a budget bill, this 10 position elimination would save the district about $900,000 in teaching expense alone.

Progressing from there, teachers are cut by 12, 14 and 15 positions in the three progressively worse gap closings, with savings maxed out at $1.2 million.

Though the district says it wishes to provide the district’s students with the best education possible, Niagara Falls teachers union President Marcus Latham said he simply can’t support the number of cuts coming down the pipeline, given the likelihood the best-case won’t be realized.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s not the superintendent’s fault, it’s the state’s fault. But it’s ridiculous.I’d like to see the cuts kept out of the classroom as much as possible. They’re hammering the teachers and it’s going to hurt the district in the long run. Teachers are the primary contact with the students in the district and are the No. 1 thing that gets kids going forward in their education.”

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