To the Editor:
The time has finally come for all to realize that the viability of CCS is at true risk along with the viability of the Upstate New York region both educationally and economically. Onerous regulation and tax rates have driven businesses and residents out of the Empire State in droves, never to return. School sports programs are a very visible example of community identity; however, it’s the educational program that is most important and is at the highest risk.
Fifteen years ago a group of district residents formed the Concerned Citizens group to protest, and soundly defeat, a $31 million bloated capital project that prompted the biggest turnout in CCS voter history. Enrollment had already declined from approximately 1,450 in the mid ’90s to 1,154 in the 2005-06 school year. The budget then was $13,240,000 and the administration privately conceded that CCS would very likely not be viable with less than 1,000 students.
Today, we have 831 students and the budget is approximately $20 million with further expectation of an enrollment decrease and no responsible budget strategy.
This is where CCS stands as varsity sports programs are on the block. This is where we stand after dozens of questions from the Concerned Citizens about a board plan to deal with this were asked over the last 15 years.
It’s about responsibility, accountability and the failure to read the handwriting on the wall starting back in 2005.
CCS is considered a wealthy district by New York State and therefore receives less state aid and lower percentages of aid when capital projects are done. This makes CCS an unattractive, but not impossible, merger partner for neighboring districts with much higher aid ratios.
For now, this simply compounds the dynamics of declining enrollment and a skyrocketing tax burden.
For 15 years, or longer, CCS has whistled by the graveyard until 200 residents showed up last week for a school board hearing about varsity sports but the terrible problem is really about how to deliver an excellent education to our children. Sadly, with emotions obscuring district viability, sports trumped education at that meeting.
There has been no plan, and there isn’t one now; however, budgets always pass and a $5 million capital project was just approved as merrily we roll along oblivious to reality.
Here is the bottom line, it’s time to read the 15-year-old handwriting on the wall.
RICHMOND J. HULSE Sr.