Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking the legislature for the flexibility to make mid-year budget adjustments every quarter depending on revenues.
Dave Albert, the chief communications and marketing officer of the New York State School Boards Association, says this means both unpredictability and instability for the state’s 700 school districts.
“The challenge here is, once the school year is running, it’s going to be hard to cut,” Albert said. “Do we cut classes? Do we cut programs?”
As for districts already suffering from financial distress, including the Rochester City Schools, Albert says it’s going to hit them even harder.
“If a district doesn’t have reserve funds, it’s going to be even worse,” said Albert.
For years, the state has wanted school districts to merge, especially in areas of upstate New York where population is dwindling. Voters only rarely approve such measures for a variety of reasons, but Albert tentatively mentioned the idea as a way to save money.
“Merging? Would that even be feasible in this environment?” Albert asked.
With Governor Andrew Cuomo saying it’s time for everyone to begin accepting a “new reality,” it appears that even the most unpopular ideas may return to the table for consideration.
“Well, we agree with the governor. This is something that’s unprecedented. The governor is doing a tremendous job fighting for the state,” said Albert. “But we need to fight for [students’] ability to get the best education they can.”
While schools are closed, districts around the state have set up distance learning, wifi hotspots in their parking lots, and are using buses to deliver meals to students in need.