Fiscal Cliff Possible for Local Schools

6:35 PM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Schools are another area that could take a big hit without a deal to avoid the so-called "Fiscal Cliff," in Washington, D.C.

This week, the State School Boards Association released its analysis of what's at stake.

New York schools would lose millions in federal aid. The funding largely serves students with disabilities and those in poverty.

If Washington lawmakers don't reach a deal by January 1st, then major cuts would be made at schools statewide. Property taxes will almost certainly go up as well.

"These federal dollars are targeted to really vulnerable populations, students with disabilities, or students living in poverty who may need extra academic support, schools cannot afford to lose this funding," said David Albert, the director of communications and research for the association.

According to the NYSSBA, the average cut per school district in Western New York would be about $174,000. However, Buffalo Public Schools would get an enormous cut of $4.1 million. This is the second largest cut of any major city school district in the state.

"But really it's across the board and even in smaller districts, where the dollar amount may not be as high, it still translates into the loss of one or two teachers and that's a significant loss," said Albert.

In Buffalo, this would be a large cut on top of an even bigger reduction in grant funds. Because the district hasn't reached an agreement with the teachers union, school officials say the district has already lost about $20 million this month and could lose more.

"In additional grant funding, that we could've gotten this year to provide additional resources for schools that needed it the most," said Dr. Pamela Brown, superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.

More could be cut from the state if the two sides don't agree on teacher assessment tests. There's a state mandate saying all districts have to start assessing teachers. The two sides are also arguing over whether the district can transfer instructors from three struggling schools.

According to Brown, hundreds of jobs would be cut and programs would be slashed. All of this, in addition to property taxes going up a percent or two.

In the end, large cuts to federal aid would hurt drastically, especially when you consider that state dollars have been cut repeatedly in the past.

It really comes down to both sides finding an agreement in Buffalo and in Washington.








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