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Mexico schools cutting $2.8 million because of FitzPatrick loss

Payne Horning
The Mexico School District in Oswego County is facing cuts of $2.8 million because the nearby FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant is slated for closure next year.

The impending closure of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County is already financially impacting the nearby Mexico School District. School district officials are planning for the loss of $2.8 million this year alone.

Before the Entergy owned plant was slated for closure, its property taxes accounted for 23 percent of the Mexico School District budget. This year, it only makes up 15 percent. The financially struggling plant recently signed a tax agreement, called a pilot, which generates $4.6 million less than what Fitzpatrick paid the school district last year. New York is allocating more money for Mexico this year, about $1.8 million in additional state aid, but it wasn't enough to make up that loss. So, 19 positions will be eliminated. Superintendent Sean Bruno said those cuts do not sacrifice the quality of education his district offers.

"It's a budget that, even though we are making the significant reductions we are, we still were able to maintain all of the opportunities for students and the student experience is kept whole," Bruno said.

Yet, parent Elizabeth Passer is upset that the administration's share of the budget is going up from 9.37 percent in 2015 to 10.3 percent this year. Passer said she would prefer for the public to vote down the budget so a revised version, with reductions to administration, could be proposed.

"We obviously do need principals in all of our elementary schools, but let's look at these other administrators," Passer said. "Do we need all of these positions?"

Bruno defended the increase, saying it's largely due to the legal fees from the tax agreement deal. The public will vote on the budget on May 17.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.