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Parents speak out during education forum in Watkins Glen

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Parents speak out during education forum in Watkins Glen
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The public is getting its chance to comment on the budget crisis in the Watkins Glen and Odessa Montour school districts. Administrators have already made painful cuts to help close the budget gap, but as YNN’s Crystal Cranmore reports, parents fear the worst may still be ahead.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Filled with questions and concern, parents lined up inside Watkins Glen High School, reacting to a presentation on the state of education in Schuyler County.

Over the last three years, Watkins Glen and Odessa Montour school districts have eliminated a combined 57 positions. Last year, Watkins Glen decreased its budget by $900,000 and next year, plans to close a middle school.

“We’re entering a time when public education is looking at some real reform. And rather than two superintendents and two boards of educations reaching decision, we are reaching out to the community for their input,” said Tom Phillips, Watkins Glen superintendent.

Consolidation is one of the many ideas on the table. The two districts already share technology services, and with non-mandated programs in jeopardy of being cut, there have been talks of combining in other areas.

The concern for parents is if the two districts continue to share services or merge, it might diminish the quality of education.

“Odessa has come a long way in increasing their academics. They are still sports minded, but they have really increased their academics and we’re concerned if we get swallowed into Watkins, we might lose that piece as well,” said Mary Coates, a parent with two children in the Odessa Montour school district.

“My concern is if we combine school districts, we still have all the programs. I don't want to lose sports, computers, the arts, sciences,” said Margie Hoy, a parent with children in the Watkins Glen school district.

Right now Watkins Glen is facing a deficit of over $2 million. Odessa Montour faces a deficit of 500,000. They hope Tuesday night's forum will produce solutions so the districts can overcome their fiscal issues and continue to provide quality education for students.

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