The Budget Gap
By Emily O'Brien and Brianna Suslovic
Assistant Features Editor and Managing Editor for Story Ideas and Communication
Photo by Sally Zheng
Over the past month, rumors have been circulating about the potential budget cuts in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District. In the next year, J-DSD will lose $1.8 million in state aid, $500,000 in federal aid, and $300,000 in sales tax with a revenue gap of approximately $2 million. At J-D High School, students and teachers have attended board meetings, addressed the board about their concerns, and presented petitions to keep their most-valued programs alive.
At board meetings on March 7, March 14 and March 21, the school board and Superintendent Alice Kendrick informed the community about proposed changes for the 2011-2012 school year. Proposed reductions included the elimination of fourth grade instrumental music, the 4:15 p.m. bus run at J-D Middle School, sixth grade French/Spanish/Chinese and various positions at all levels. The board is currently working to develop a final budget plan to be presented to the public on April 4, at a board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.
Dr. Kendrick said that the board is gathering information from a variety of sources and taking community feedback into consideration. The final deadline for a budget falls around April 15, according to Dr. Kendrick. The last board meeting before this deadline is April 4.
Student Counselor Will Hartley, whose position was originally in jeopardy, has been assured that he will have a job at J-DHS next year, thanks to support from students and parents. J-DHS students created two separate petitions and collected hundreds of signatures in order to help Mr. Hartley keep his position. Numerous students have spoken in favor of the language and instrumental music programs at recent board meetings. A letter-writing campaign was also started by social studies teacher Donna Oppedisano. With support from teachers health teacher Melissa Moore, social studies teacher Tom Bennett, and English teacher Courtney Romeiser, Mrs. Oppedisano helped students write to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state senators and state representatives about the effect that budget cuts would have on the district. The letters were delivered to the elected officials or their offices on March 25.
J-DHS Principal Paul Gasparini said that the district is "attempting to maintain as much of the academic program as we currently have." Dr. Kendrick has a similar mindset. "The goal is to try to maintain as much opportunity for students as possible."
There will be a follow-up story on the full effects of the budget cuts on J-DHS after the board meeting on April 4.
UPDATE: Here's the follow-up article on the final outcome of the budget conflict.