December 7, 2012
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Since its inception 10 years ago, the Prevention Council’s drug free program at Saratoga Springs High School has made great strides in the war on substance abuse.
“Their usage rates dropped almost 40 percent,” executive director Heather Kisselback said. “There’s still kids using so it’s just a matter of what as a community is acceptable to you. To us it’s zero, we don’t want any kids using.”
“When you have consistency over a long period of time it becomes part of the culture,” Saratoga Springs School District superintendent Michael Piccirillo said.
Unfortunately for administrators, that culture could be at risk. A 10-year federal grant for the program expires in September, with a state grant for a similar class at the Shenendehowa School District running out six months later.
“All of these grants have time limits on them and you really hope you can find a way to sustain them and that’s very difficult to do in this day and age,” Kisselback said.
The organization’s $1.5 million budget is already down $120,000 from a year ago thanks to the elimination of programs like Youth Court. By moving into a smaller space in The Mill building last month, they’re tightening their belt even further.
By moving out of the former Phila Street location, the Prevention Council was able to trim $35,000 off its budget, about the cost of one staff person but still not enough to cover the price of either expiring grant.
“The better situation would be that the money came back…that there was more grants out there,” Kisselback said.
With that scenario unlikely, the Prevention Council, local schools and other organizations are teaming together to look for ways and dollars to keep the programs running without the usual funding, a large task administrators say they must accomplish.
“Yes, the funding is moving away and yes, that’s an issue but we’re going to move forward, that’s a given. There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll move forward,” Piccirillo said.