School layoffs are only a short-term answer

To the editor:

Saranac Lake’s school budget is at a “perfect storm” kind of a moment with the outfall from Gap Elimination Adjustment, the tax cap constraint, the higher costs of testing mandates and new, expensive technologies for classrooms. Our schools are under so much pressure from state and federal mandates. We have to stand up at the local level and tell state and federal bullies that OUR community won’t stand for it. With a reasonable override of the tax cap, along with innovative partnerships throughout the Tri-Lakes and beyond, we can be a model of an amazing public school system that others will look to for inspiration.

While we don’t know what the future will bring, I think that the superintendent’s currently proposed school budget is telling us that we need to scuttle our fairly intact ship before we have any idea of what the weather on the horizon is. The proposed budget is is a knee-jerk reaction to a bad moment in time without any long-term vision. With all hands on deck, we can keep this ship floating long into the future, I’m sure.

Leaders often talk about layoffs as “a really hard decision,” but in this case, I feel like layoffs and decreased programming for students in Saranac Lake schools is the lazy way out of a fiscal crisis. We have North Country Community College, neighboring school districts, parent-faculty organizations, sports booster clubs, our local biotech triangle and so many other resources in the community that could be creatively leveraged to offer even MORE to our students while also saving jobs. A creative leader would find a way, but if our elected leaders aren’t up for the task, then “we the people” have to be!

I believe in the right to a passion-driven education for all children, and we have many elements of that right now in Saranac Lake public schools that need to be preserved. Children are the lifeblood of a community, and they hold our futures in their hands and they deserve EVERYTHING we can give them.

Sunita Halasz

Saranac Lake