Newcomb Central School
Members of the Newcomb Central School Board held their final budget hearing on Monday, June 10, covering cuts to the previous budget, as well as maintenance expenses that could not be avoided.
Both the Board and Superintendent Skip Hults also shot down rumors that NCS would close its high school if the next budget fails.
Most of the cuts Hults covered were to academic and extracurricular activities. Independent study programs, extra transportation runs, band tours, music festivals, and the Youth and Government program have all been eliminated. This does not mean all of the programs are gone for good; in the case of band tours and Youth and Government, it simply means costs would be passed on to students’ parents. Hults also hopes Newcomb’s PTSO will help raise money for both programs. There was no mention of staff reductions.
The costs that could not be reduced included bus maintenance, conversion to a completely digital assessment system, and electricity/fuel expenses. The first two are state-mandated, while the third is necessary given the Adirondack Park’s harsh winters.
Members of the Newcomb community were actively engaged during the entire meeting — asking questions about specific program costs, potential sources of revenue, and state regulations — but the most passionate issue of the evening was the belief that NCS will tuition its high school students to other districts if it is forced to use a contingency budget. Community members were outraged by the possibility. In a June 4 article, the Post Star reported Hults to have said closing the high school was the only way to meet the demands of a contingency budget.
Sterling Goodspeed was particularly concerned.
“My kids came home and asked us where they were going to school next year. It was disturbing,” Goodspeed said.
Goodspeed — whose wife, Susan, is a member of the School Board — delivered a passionate defense of the school, which was met by applause from the rest of the audience.
“I’d rather pay for a school I’m proud of than have no school at all,” said Phyllis Montanye said, who is the second in four generations of her family to graduate from Newcomb Central School.
The Board was quick to assuage the audience’s fears. They were insistent that Newcomb’s high school would stay open.
“It was mention in passing,” Susan Goodspeed said. “None of us agreed to it.”
Instead, Hults said NCS will take money out of its plan balance to cover the costs. The plan balance, a total of $500,000, is set aside for building repairs and other unforeseen costs. The problem with this is that once the money in the plan balance is gone, it’s gone for good. If something goes wrong in the future, it would mean huge problems the Newcomb might not be able to afford.
Board President Kevin Bolan confirmed that the NCS administration has asked other districts for tuition price quotes, but only as a last-ditch resort. He hopes families from other districts in the area will tuition their students to Newcomb instead. Bolan lamented that he has not been able to effectively communicate the school’s intentions to the Newcomb community, and hopes that any misgivings have been cleared up.
Newcomb will vote on the new budget on Tuesday, June 18, from 3 to 8 p.m.