A survey sent out to school superintendents across New York State shows that proposed budget cuts could force the state to shed 15,000 teaching positions next year.

Distributed by the association representing school superintendents and the New York State School Boards Association, the survey went out to about 700 superintendents and roughly half returned it. Those who did reported a grim year ahead in which the state would have to lay off four percent of its teachers, increase class sizes, and reduce electives.

The bulk of those lost teaching positions would come from New York City’s schools, which Mayor Bloomberg has said could lose about 8,500 teachers if the state budget cuts go through unchanged. Though 16 Democratic state senators have written to Governor David Paterson saying they won’t approve any cuts to education, the Senate is now prepared to pass Paterson’s budget as is.

School employees who don’t have teaching positions are at an even greater risk of losing their jobs, the survey shows. While the state budget cuts would force the average district to lay off about four percent of teachers, that number for non-teaching positions is closer to six percent.

A majority of the superintendents who responded said that in order to keep their schools running, they planned to spent some or all of their rainy day funds.