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A Year of Hard Choices

Tom Burns of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES
Tom Burns of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES

Local schools study consolidation

In much of the North Country, declining enrollments and dwindling state aid are painting a stark picture for school districts. Districts are talking about sharing administrations, teachers, and, in some cases, merging or closing schools.

This week, the 18 school districts in St. Lawrence County are beginning a year-long study of consolidation. Enrollment has plunged by more than 10,000 students from 30 years ago, a 40% drop. Almost all the districts are classified as rural high-need.

Tom Burns is district superintendent of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. He told David Sommerstein the numbers are disheartening. But he says full-fledged school mergers are a worst-case scenario, especially because of the distance students would have to travel.  Go to full article
Sarah Minor, happy to have a cubicle she can call her own.

Story 2.0 - a journalism student finds a job after a long search

A Story 2.0 today, where we follow-up with people we've reported on in the past. Last year as a part of our Year of Hard Choices series, we met Sarah Minor, a photojournalism graduate from Syracuse University. She was living with her parents in St. Lawrence County while looking for a job. It was 2008 and 2009, the depth of the Recession, and newspapers were laying off reporters and photographers in droves. She moved to Chicago and got a part-time job with Suburban Life. The company owns 14 weekly papers in the area. She adapts print stories for the website, researching sidebar topics and adding links to stories. And she gets to do the occasional photo shoot. Last week, Sarah was hired full-time. She spoke with David Sommerstein during one of her first morning commutes as a full-time worker.  Go to full article

STORY 2.0: After A year of Hard Choices, checking in on the region?s economy

North Country Public Radio kicked off its "Year of Hard Choices" look at the impact of the Great Recession last year with a conversation with economist Greg Gardener.

Gardner has been a student of the North Country economy since coming to the region over 15 years ago. He teaches at SUNY Potsdam. He and his wife live outside Watertown.

He says the year looked about like he had thought it would...unemployment is up, there's been pressure on the private sector, but the region had an OK tourism year..."we got leaned on hard," he said, but it wasn't catastrophic.

But Gardner told Martha Foley there was a troubling erosion of what's traditionally been the region's buffer against hard times. Public sector jobs: from prisons to schools to local government. They're threatened, and hurts the North Country.  Go to full article

Year of Hard Choices: Classes and hope at career centers, but few jobs

Over the last year, the NCPR news team has been reporting on the impacts of the so-called Great Recession in our series, A Year of Hard Choices. What we didn't necessarily...  Go to full article
Randy and Sharlene Carpenter, with their son.

Year of Hard Choices: A job search, delayed

At the beginning of this year, we began a series called A Year of Hard Choices, looking at the challenges posed by economic losses and budget deficits. You can review all of...  Go to full article
Tom Slater inside the Food Bank of CNY's warehouse.

Story 2.0: In prolonged time of need, food bank still provides

As the unemployment rate in much of the North Country remains just under 10%, more families are struggling to put food on the table. Thousands of people live with food...  Go to full article

Disabilities advocates fear funding cuts

Governor Paterson's deficit reduction plan is facing opposition from many groups who rely on government funding. People with disabilities have been keeping a vigil in Albany...  Go to full article
Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R-Gouverneur)

Dede Scozzafava: "I'm proud of my investment"

Seaway Valley Capital Corporation has become a concern in Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava's campaign for Congress. According to her personal finance disclosure form,...  Go to full article
The Canton store that was once Ames, then Wise Buys, then Hacketts -- now shuttered.

Seaway Valley & Hacketts: a special report

This morning, we have a special report on how two North Country retailers, Hacketts and Wise Buys, came together in a shifting delta of deals and dreams. And debt, because...  Go to full article
Mary Rain, St. Lawrence County's Public Defender, shows her staff's overbooked schedules.

Year of Hard Choices: public defenders swamped

Tonight, the St. Lawrence County legislature takes up a measure to increase the salaries of its public attorneys. The vote comes after more than half of the county's 21...  Go to full article

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