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Local charter school adjusts for budget shortfall

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Charter School for Applied Technologies
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By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-904972.mp3

Kenmore, NY – As school districts across the region struggle with state funding cuts, a local charter school is also feeling some budget pain. A letter was issued to parents of students at the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Kenmore.

Elementary students at Applied Technologies happily walk the hallways to their next class. And while they are concentrating on learning, school leaders are forced to trim back programs and some jobs.

Tom Lucia is chief communications officer for Applied Technologies. "Most of the positions are located in support positions. Classroom teachers will be largely unaffected by it," said Lucia.

The parents have been very supportive The school's budget short fall is the result the state's cap on charter school funding and added transportation costs. Applied Technologies is the largest charter school in the state and took the biggest hit in the state cap, losing $2.3 million.

The school says it will be forced to cut its Spanish program to students in kindergarten thorough 4th grade.

"We just can't continue to do that anymore with the budget," said Lucia.

The school will also be forced to make some changes to the technology and science labs.

"The kids will continue to get their computer instruction in the classroom, but they won't have the dedicated computer lab time for all of the grades as we have in the past," said Lucia.

One parent tells WBFO News the loss of the Spanish language program is a big "disappointment". Her daughter, who enters second grade in the new school year, will lose her Spanish class.

Lucia admits this is a painful process, but says the school has worked to minimize the damage. School leaders insist these financial challenges will not undermine the school's mission of academic excellence for students.

Late last week, both houses of the State Legislature passed a bill that would raise the cap on the number of charter schools in New York. That action is expected to improve the state's chances of securing federal funding from the President's Race to the Top program. Tuesday is the deadline for the state to file its application.