School funding, tests, proms up in air due to COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 2, 2020 at 3:22 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It's a spring of uncertainty for local school districts. Teaching has been turned on its head, important tests are in limbo and the governor has some schools set for cutbacks to help the state budget.

"It just stinks. This whole situation stinks," said Riley Dalrymple, a senior at Copenhagen Central.

Her classes are now online, her regents exams are still looming and her prom dress might not ever get off its hanger.

"I was like, oh, I get to go to my prom for the first time and I was really excited for it, but we're like, um, we don't know if we're going to have it," she said.

But even more pressing than prom this year are budget cuts for next year.

The state released budget projections Wednesday, and while most schools are staying flat - getting the same amount of funding as last year, some are getting a cut of around 1 percent.

That might not seem substantial, but for a school like Indian River, that means three quarters of a million dollars less in state aid.

Fortunately, Superintendent Mary Anne Dobmeier says they'll make it work.

"We are not looking at a situation where we're going to be nixing programs or staff at this time," she said.

LaFargeville isn't projected to get cut, but is worried about quarterly rollbacks, which Governor Cuomo has mentioned.

"That would mean starting a program and having to cut a program that kids are already in," said Travis Hoover, LaFargeville superintendent.

It will be a worry for next year. But in the present, superintendents are just trying to get through this shutdown, which they suspect might stretch longer than April 20.

"I think the prospect is quite high that we're going to continue to see some two-week intervals of closure extensions," said Dobmeier.

"We're hopeful that we will be able to open. We miss our kids. We want them here, we want to be able to see them," said Hoover.

In the meantime, they’re crunching numbers, postponing proms and trying to remain optimistic.

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