Jobs may be slashed at Syracuse schools

Syracuse School Superintendent Dan Lowengard said he doesn't know where the school district can find $18 million in the next few months, but that he's got to start looking.

The school district had a $47 million budget gap but so far Lowengard has only been able to fill $29 million. That $29 million will come from eliminating 154 positions, cutting expenses and using $15 million from reserves. That will only leave $15 million left in the district's reserve account.

For the remaining $18 million gap, Lowengard plans to look for help in Albany and Washington D.C.

"We're going to work together, we're going to work with the unions, we're going to work with our assembly people and senators and try to find a way out of this," said Lowengard.

Lowengard will be asking the teachers union to reopen their existing contract. The union president was less then enthusiastic when asked about that idea after Lowengard gave the budget presentation.

"I think that's something that we would have to discuss," said Anne Marie Voutsinas from the Syracuse Teachers Association. "I represent 3,400 people so that's something we would have to look at and see where it would end up."

If the district doesn't find $18 million more, 270 more positions could be cut. That would be on top of the 154 the superintendent is already planning on. The teachers union president was doubtful that Albany or Washington would provide any more money and suggested it may have to come from taxpayers.

"No one wants to talk about a property tax increase or income tax increases but I don't know how else you get revenue," said Voutsinas.

Superintendent Lowengard said cutting a total of 424 positions is a real possibility - even if he is afraid of the effect that would have on schools.

"We can not withstand a 400 person cut," said Lowengard. "Even 150 is beyond what our financial plan was."

The school district has some time to find that $18 million or fill the gap. The final adopted budget is due in June.