For schools that are financially strapped to cover all required programs and implement new standards community partnerships fill budget gaps.
The 2014-2015 New York State budget grants an additional $1.1 billion to schools. It sounds like a lot of money.
But many North Country schools are still struggling financially. They’re not getting the state aid they need. They’ve cut staff and classes. And next year, many schools still have will have to dip into their fund balances to pay for programs. Yesterday at St. Lawrence University, educators and community leaders came together at an annual gathering called the North Country Symposium. This year, they talked about how to keep schools and the economy strong.
Alexis Widener is a senior at Huevelton Central School. And she’s no stranger to budget cuts.
“We’ve seen that with our school there was a lot of classes cut and classes are getting bigger, the one-on-one time with teachers is being cut.”
Alexis is headed to college in the fall. She’s gotten in Clarkson. But she’s not sure she wants to stay in the region, because at the end of those 4 years, there’s no guarantee of a job.
“I think there’s not as many opportunities, because I want to go in for business. So being around here, the need for it isn’t high. So I don’t want to not be able to pay back all the college loans that are very expensive.”
This is what North Country educators and professionals are concerned about here – the link between schools and the economy.
Good schools mean students can get good jobs and get into college. Good schools make a community attractive to employers and professionals. That generates business and builds the economy.
Bill Murray is president of CITEC, a business and manufacturing consulting agency in Potsdam. He says North Country employers are looking for skilled workers.
“The number one challenge when I walk around and I meet with business owners and production managers, and so forth, and I ask them, what’s the number one thing that keeps you up at night and the answer is: trained work force. Finding the workforce with the skillsets, both soft skills and hard skills, to fill the jobs that they have.”
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