Residents in the Sharon Springs Central School District are being invited to a community forum as the district looks to plan for the future.
An open community forum is scheduled for Thursday so residents can help guide priorities in the face of declining state aid, Superintendent Patterson Green said.
Residents are being encouraged to provide input on what services they are satisfied or unsatisfied with and whether the district should pursue mergers or consolidation with other districts.
“It’s going to help shape the board’s planning for the next five years,” Green said.
The district’s Board of Education declined to participate last year in a merger study with school districts in Schoharie and neighboring counties. Green said that wasn’t because the district rejects the possibility, but rather that its officials want to review options at a more deliberate pace.
He said it’s important to plan now as school districts statewide face increasing difficulty making ends meet.
He pointed to a report released earlier this month that showed more than 100 of the state’s school superintendents said their districts are worse off this year than last year.
The New York State Council of School Superintendents reported 18 percent of school leaders responding to a survey anticipate having insufficient funding to meet with state and federal mandates within two years, and 77 percent of them said it could happen within four years.
Green said options for Sharon Springs to merge with other districts could center on the Canajoharie School District in Montgomery County or the Cherry Valley district in Otsego County, but he said no firm motivation towards consolidation has been expressed.
“There’s no clear consensus there’s even a desire for our district to merge with another school,” he said.
Green said there’s no immediate urgency to make decisions — the district was able to remain within the state’s 2 percent tax cap and he sees no “fiscal cliff” on the horizon.
District residents approved an $8.64 million spending plan for the 2012-13 school year that came with a 2 percent tax levy increase, but that budget followed the cut of two elementary-school positions the year before.
“I don’t see, at this point in time, going past the 2 percent property tax cap. But times are tough out here,” Green said.
Sharon Springs School District will hold the “Your Future, Your School Open Community Forum” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium.