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Bad news may be good for Schenectady schools

Sunday, January 19, 2014
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We can certainly understand Schenectady school Superintendent Laurence Spring’s frustration upon hearing that his district had been slapped with another dubious distinction — ninth most fiscally stressed in the state — but as the spokesman from the state comptroller’s office (which provided the list) intimated in Friday’s Gazette story, this news may work out in the district’s favor.

The comptroller’s office probably couldn’t have picked a better time to release bad news like this — though probably the only real news to Schenectady officials was the ranking: They already knew how much trouble the district is in financially. Just last week, Spring said he expected a $10 million deficit — roughly 5 percent of this year’s budget. And that was assuming a 2 percent increase in state aid, which the district may or may not get.

The fact the district has filed a civil rights complaint with the federal government, alleging that the state’s aid formula discriminates against the district’s predominantly minority students, may not ingratiate Spring with the governor, but we hope Cuomo doesn’t take any hard feelings he may have for him out on Schenectady students and taxpayers.

As if it weren’t already painfully obvious from the goings-on last fall at Mont Pleasant Middle School, the comptroller’s report should make painfully clear that the Schenectady school district needs some serious help. The legislators who represent the district, Sen. Hugh Farley and Assemblyman Phillip Steck, need to make a special plea for the district, by far the biggest fiscal basket case in their respective districts.

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