Herkimer students protest cuts to school aid


HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - State aid to schools is decreasing, the number of teachers is shrinking, class sizes are growing and important programs are disappearing.

It's a formula that leaves everyone unhappy. Eleven teachers in the Herkimer Central School District learned on Wednesday that they are going to be laid off, some leaving the building in tears.

"I can honestly say in the 36 years that I've been an educator, this is probably the most difficult time I can recall in terms of support for school districts," says Herkimer School Superintendent Carol Zygo.

Zygo says the only way to make up for the $1.3 million cut in state aid would be to raise school taxes 25% - clearly not an option. Students upset about the cuts, and concerned about teachers, protested outside the school today, holding signs and shouting, "save our teachers!"

Students say some teachers learned during the school day that they were going to lose their jobs.

"A few teachers left crying...they don't want to find this out in front of everybody. Everyone was upset," says senior Caity Gallagher.

If the proposed layoffs are finalized, class sizes in Herkimer could grow from 17 to up to 25 students at the k-2 level; 21 to up to 30 students in the 3-6 grade level. They also could mean elimination of the high school's business program.

"Which to me and to all of these students out here just doesn't make much sense as to how our country runs today; it runs on business," says senior Trevor Roorda.

The school board has to adopt the budget in order for it to be sent on to the public for a vote. The board is expected to act at Tuesday's meeting. The public school board vote is in mid-May.

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