Superintendent Gregory presented the Canton School Board with a brief summary of the state aid picture. Due to the fact that certain budget lines were listed as zero in the state aid runs, it initially appeared that Canton`s increase was greater than it actually is. (The aid runs suggested that the aid increase was as much as 9%).
When including the numbers omitted from the aid runs, Canton actually only receives 2.76% ($373,000, or approximately $270 per pupil) more than last year. However some of those increases come in categories that are expense based, meaning that the money must be spent in those categories to be used (i.e. textbooks and transportation). If not spent in those categories, the aid cannot be accessed. This means that the discretionary operational aid that can be used to support programming is in reality increased by less than the 2.76% figure.
The base aid (foundation aid) remains frozen, as it has been for the past several years, and Canton`s aid as determined by the state formula continues to be reduced by the regressive Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). This perpetuates the State`s policy of cutting state aid to poorer districts more aid to than wealthier districts. This year`s proposed GEA will cost Canton over $1.8 million, or approximately $1320 per student. An unofficial estimate of the GEA per pupil in NYS places the statewide average at $684. By way of comparison, similar-sized low needs district has a proposed GEA of $321 per student.
The significance of this difference in GEA lies in the fact that a wealthier district has more property and income wealth to make up for any GEA reduction. Districts like Canton, which have a fraction of the property and income resources and a greater degree of poverty, cannot make up for these cuts. Note the difference in 2-year tax levy increase that would be required for Canton as opposed to a wealthier district to offset the GEA in this graphic.
According to the Superintendent`s preliminary analysis, this aid picture leaves Canton with an anticipated budget gap of over $2 million.