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Madrid-Waddington could be financially insolvent in five years

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MADRID — Madrid-Waddington Central School’s superintendent says the district could be broke within five years.

The school joins a growing list of north country districts that expect to be financially viable no longer within several years.

“Data indicates that if we are unable to replenish our reserves, due to continually increasing the amount of local fund balance that is applied to our budget, we could have approximately 4.3 years before insolvency,” Superintendent Lynn M. Roy said Friday.

To prevent that, the district is working with state legislators to rework the state aid formula to include more credit for districts in rural areas. Children in rural, high-need communities do not have the same educational opportunities as those in wealthier, suburban districts, Mrs. Roy said.

“The continued inequitable funding stream widens the divide between school communities across our state, leaving children in rural and poor urban districts at a disadvantage,” she said. “The current state aid formula does not give credit for those districts below the combined wealth ratio of .65. Madrid-Waddington is currently .515.”

The combined wealth ratio is the formula used to determine how much a district can pay toward its students’ education.

“If a district is below that ratio, we are funded as if we have more money and we have to make up the difference through local revenues,” she said.

Madrid-Waddington Board of Education members have shared their concerns with state legislators, Mrs. Roy said. Last year, she and other north country superintendents talked with state lawmakers about aid inequities for rural, high-need districts.

“This year, we hope to further inform our legislative representatives as well as our community leaders at a community breakfast in early winter after the governor’s proposed budget is announced,” Mrs. Roy said.

In the meantime, the school board and administration will continue to work to develop a budget that compensates for the funding decline while supporting educational programs, she said.

The district has applied several-cost saving measures in recent years, including sharing administrators with Lisbon and Heuvelton central schools and reducing positions through layoffs or attrition in all areas. The district also shares a health teacher through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“Elementary, art, music, health, driver’s education, elementary counselor have all been reduced,” Mrs. Roy said.

But junior and senior high school students have experienced a loss of electives because of staff reductions. Extra help programs have been reduced, and a middle school homework club has been lost.

“The loss of program and staff indicate that we are closer to educational insolvency, or diminished capacity to provide the necessary educational opportunities for all students to be able to graduate with career and college readiness,” she said.

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