Jefferson Community College's Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community is out and the results aren't good for local schools.
The survey asks residents a series of questions about the county.
This year, there was a 20 percent increase in people who think education in the county is actually "getting worse."
"There's been a two year trend of people dissatisfied, I think the best word to be used concerned with the quality of K through 12 education," said Dr. Ray Petersen, director of the Center for Community Studies.
People aren't blaming the schools.
They're blaming the state for cutting resources.
"It was nearly 30 to 1 who said it's definitely making things worse," said Peterson.
So why a 20 percent increase now?
Jefferson-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Jay Boak says people are starting to notice staff cuts that schools are making in order to battle the budget crunch.
"They've (schools) reached the point where they no longer have resources that they have been able to set aside in the past for these kind of situations. Those resources have been completely depleted," said Boak.
And that's not likely to change anytime soon.
"Our school districts are going to continue to see these funds being siphoned off," said Boak.
It wasn't all bad news in the survey.
In fact, with increased shopping opportunities and downtown Watertown's continued improvement, 84 percent of people surveyed say they actually like being in Jefferson County.
Other highlights of this year's survey include:
- Residents indicated most frequently that the following aspects of our community were "getting worse": the cost of energy, the availability of good jobs, real estate taxes, and the overall state of the local economy.
- The results on the economy and jobs suggest an improvement in perceptions of the direction of the local economy. There was a significant decrease in respondents rating "Overall State of the Local Economy" as "getting worse", down from 56% in 2011 to 42% in 2012, and still well below the peak year for this rating in 2009 (72%).
While over half of respondents (52%) indicated that the "Availability of Good Jobs" was "getting worse", this was down from 65% in 2011. Also, the 13% who rated this situation as "getting better" gave this question the most positive numbers since the 2008 recession.
- The Survey also demonstrated support for school district sharing of services (86%), and for school districts to consider consolidation (61%).
- Two out of every five residents reported that availability of housing in the county was "getting worse".
- Even though those without health insurance are 11% of the total county residents, two out of every five report having no regular (primary care) doctor, and over a quarter (27%)chose not to seek needed medical care because of cost.
- Roughly two-thirds of residents reported that energy costs were getting worse (68%), this was down from 82% in 2011. Similar numbers of residents reported that due to higher gas prices they used their vehicles less (66%) and reduced spending in other areas (64%).
- The business sector that was rated "very important" to the Jefferson County economy by the most respondents was "maintaining farms and agriculture" (75%), while having wind farms in the region was rated "very important" by 40%.
The entire survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey instrument, will be available after the Annual Meeting on the Jefferson Community college website by following this link for the Center for Community Studies, http://www.sunyjefferson.edu/ccs/, and clicking on 'Annual Survey.'