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Springville-Griffith schools facing $1.6 million budget shortfall in 2015-16

Officials voiced fears about the upcoming budget deficit’s effects in the Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District during the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting.

The district faces a potential shortfall of $1.6 million in 2015-16 and a possible $3.4 million deficit the following year.

Ted Welch, business administrator, expects no solution from the state government.

“I wish I could be more optimistic about it, but quite frankly, I’ve been screaming ‘the sky is falling’ since 2008,” he told the board in the Collins Center Fire Hall.

Superintendent Paul Connelly expressed concern that the district may lose the gains it made in graduation rates.

He anticipates a higher dropout rate and lower graduation rate after officials trim programs from the budget in the next few years. More students may drop out because of declining interest in school without those programs.

Connelly believes any efforts to lessen the budget shortfall will make little difference.

“We’re straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said.

In 2012, the district eliminated the equivalent of 45 full-time positions. More cuts may loom in the near future.

Even if the district decreases the number of field trips and removes other activities, it will still find itself in a difficult situation, Connelly warned.

“There’s not much room left to go,” he said.

The superintendent faulted the state government, specifically Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, for decreasing aid with the gap elimination adjustment. Each year since 2009-10, the state government has used it to subtract an amount from each district’s state aid to cover its revenue deficit.

Connelly plans to continue reaching out to state legislators, the only officials who can reverse the problem if they end the gap elimination adjustment.

“If the governor’s objective is to dismantle public education, he’s being very successful,” he said.

Board members also voted 4-1 to approve four “preferred building” substitute teachers, a teacher for each building in the district. Michael Connors cast the opposing vote.