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School districts prepare for the upcoming school year with voter-approved budgets and board members

Students enter school in the Central Square District.
WAER File Photo
Students enter school in the Central Square District.

School districts in Central New York and across the state are getting ready to enter summer and the next school year with fresh budgets and new school board members. Voters approved about 99 percent of budgets this week that stayed under the two percent tax cap, and 88 percent of those that pierced the cap. New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Bob Schneider says the spending plans aim to address learning loss from the pandemic.

"We're restoring programs, services, and supports for students to get them caught up, to support them on the mental health side of the equations, to staff up more. In the first year of the pandemic two years ago, there were a lot of cuts around the state...a lot of programs and personnel. Now we're restoring that."

Schneider says it helps that the state is fully funding public education, not to mention federal pandemic relief funds and a second installment of foundation aid. He says children clearly have additional needs.

"You don't know what kind of trauma they've faced in their lives, or how this is all affecting students when they come into the building. Some of them don't have the opportunity to eat a proper meal before they come in. Some have some mental illness issues. So, the challenge is how do we get those students to learn optimally by giving them these support systems."

Besides budgets, voters also chose new school board members. Schneider says some of them were elected based on their opposition to masking, vaccination, and curriculum. Schneider hopes the politics can be put aside in favor of working for children.

"It's more than a single agenda item. It's a collaborative team working with the superintendent in order to serve the students and get them the best public education experience they deserve."

He says that includes ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide, which became painfully apparent during remote learning in mainly rural and urban districts.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at