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North Syracuse Central School District tables budget cuts amid protest from parents

As students in the North Syracuse School District head back to school, they may not have as many extra curricular activities to join this year.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - As students in the North Syracuse School District head back to school, they may not have as many extra curricular activities to join this year.

The school board was expected to eliminate funding for more than a dozen clubs and activities in the latest round of budget cuts.

But, there was a surprising twist just before the vote on Monday night.

Members of the CNS Drumline and Cadet Winterguard rose from their seats, standing in unity for each speaker who defended their programs at the school board meeting.

"We're just looking for an opportunity to come to the table and offer our suggestions because we know the cuts need to be made. We get that," said Winterguard Director Julie Hilbert.

The 2013-2014 budget requires a 16 percent reduction in co-curricular activities.

The cuts were implemented after the original budget proposal failed, forcing the district to revise its spending plan.

The bottom line was lowered, but voters were not told which co-curricular programs would be cut until the revised budget had passed. The list was released last week.

At least one school board member announced that he would not have voted to eliminate the programs on the list, had he known what was being considered.

The declaration was met with applause from parents in the crowd.

The Bara family's youngest daughter was preparing to sign up for Winterguard this year, after watching her older sisters grow in the program.

"It's definitely an extra push. I want to keep my grades up so I can stay on the team and it has really made me more outgoing because I used to be so terrified of going in front of people and now I do it like it is nothing," explained former Winterguard member Kelli Bara.

The Bara's were in the crowd as several speakers shared similar stories.

When it was time to eliminate funding for the co-curricular programs, the school board was asked for a motion to vote and there was silence.

Nobody offered to second the motion.

"When the motion was called for those cuts, not a single individual on that board raised their hand. I've never seen that. I've been teaching in this district for almost 20 years," said Drumline Director Karen Seamans.

The motion was tabled until the school board's next meeting on September 9, 2013.

Cuts still need to be made or money needs to be raised through private donations in order for all the programs to remain active.

It has been a rocky year for the North Syracuse School District, which is in the process of replacing their superintendent.

The previous, sometimes controversial, superintendent Kim Dyce Faucette resigned a year early, with the board agreeing to pay the remainder of her contract.

Interim Superintendent Annette Speach acknowledges that the district's image took a negative hit. She's confident some of the co-curricular programs can be saved.

"We will go back and take a look to see if there are any creative options that we have. I've already heard people, as they were leaving tonight ask about the amount of money that would need to be raised in terms of fundraisers if they wanted to make a donation," Speach said.

Programs slated to have funding eliminated include:

CNS HIGH SCHOOL:
  • Academic Decathlon
  • FCCLA - Family, careers, and community leaders of America
  • GSA - Gay/Straight Alliance
  • Math League
  • Insights
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Drumline

NORTH SYRACUSE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL:
  • Jazz Band
  • Cadet Winterguard
  • DECA - formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America
  • FCCLA

ROXBORO ROAD MIDDLE SCHOOL:
  • Yearbook
  • Newspaper

The school board agreed to accept private donations on Monday night that will save the following programs:
  • CNS Science Olympiad (Anonymous $2,900 donation)
  • CNS String Quartet (Anonymous $1,750 donation)
  • NS Jr. High Science Olympiad (Anonymous $2,900 donation)
  • Gillette Road Middle School yearbook and newspaper (PTG $5,436 donation)
  • The CNS Football Booster Club donated 75 pairs of Under Armour uniforms worth $15,000.
  • The JV Tennis Booster Club donated $4,500 to reinstate the team.

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