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Catskill budget session hears opposition to cuts

Mar 02, 2011 8:52 am

"This is a difficult financial climate for everybody," said Catskill Central School District Superintendent Kate Farrell at the first of two public hearing sessions on how to approach this year's state education budget cuts and caps held at the Catskill Middle School on Tuesday evening, March 1. Turnout was lighter than expected, but passions were high as teachers, parents and local residents talked about a "bare bones" budget proposal, with no specifics, that started with cuts to everything besides what was required by state mandate. Speakers addressed what would happen to students wanting to go on to college without Advanced Placement classes, what the community would miss out on with no music or art programs, or sports teams to cheer for, and how they would tell their youngest ones that there would be no more kindergarten or pre-k classes, or that they'd have to walk to school if they lived in the village. "Taxes are the price we pay to live in our civilization. I think we're getting a good bang for the buck with education," said one teacher/parent. "When you cut a budget you don't do it with an axe, you do it with a scalpel," said a parent who'd moved up from Westchester County because of Catskills AP and Universal Pre-K programs. "To cut things the way you're planning is unconscionable. Give our kids every advantage you can... taxpayers are not your only constituents." "You scared a lot of people with this budget proposal," said another teacher of 21 years experience. "You're considering cutting 63 jobs. What you're proposing effects a lot of people and these actions are not responsible... This district has not voted down a budget in 21 years; we treasure our education... you have made commitments to our kids. Fulfill them... these kids didn't do anything wrong to deserve this." Seven of nine board members were in attendance but showing no emotion. A second such hearing is scheduled for the evening of March 14, again from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Video of kindergarten teachers at the meeting by Phillip Yeh and Daniel McInerney. More snippets from this passionate meeting, which seems to sum up much of the growing opposition to drastic governmental budget cuts underway at the present moment, will be added to this entry throughout the day.
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