Budget Update

As promised, here are two updates on the budget outcome. Some good news, but not great.

Here is an update from Barb Beekman, Canton School Board President:

The school aid numbers have been released. Canton’s Gap Elimination Adjustment GEA) is, again, a $2.1 million reduction. The GEA restoration is $555,497, an increase of $260,480 over the Govenor’s budget. Foundation aid increased $33,201 (this had stayed the same in the Govenor’s budget). While any increase is welcome, our net GEA reduction of $1.5 million will be a challenge to overcome. The BOE will now begin assessing all potential solutions to close this gap.

The budget also includes language that eliminates the artificial “floor” on one wealth indicator. This had been a disadvantage to any district that had a wealth indicator lower than that floor (almost all North Country districts). Unfortunately, the foundation aid has been frozen for several years and the effect of this change will not be evident until they use current data to calculate foundation aid.

Here is the update from Patrick Brady, Potsdam Central School Superintendent:

With the increase in Foundation aid and reduction of the Gap Elimination adjustment the state legislature has provided approximately $397,000 in additional revenues to Potsdam Central School over the Governor’s earlier proposal. This brings are overall aid increase in 2013-14 to $424,080 beyond the aid provided in the 2012-13 school year.

This additional aid will be helpful in restoring some of the staff and programs we had targeted for cuts in 2013-14 and I appreciate the work of our legislators in helping to obtain this needed support. The fact that most of the aid increases were produced by lowering the Gap Elimination Adjustment rather than increasing the inequitable Foundation Aid formula indicates an awareness of the issues which are causing are schools to struggle. It also signals that the work of our parent groups and other school advocates are beginning to be heard. But we have lost millions of dollars over these past four years and until the state is willing to abolish the entire GEA schools like Potsdam will continue to face being on the brink of insolvency. We need mandate relief and other long term solutions which will help us to save staffing and programs so we can provide the same high quality opportunities for our students as can be found in any other region of the state.

News roundup:

State aid increase not enough for many NNY school districts http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20130328/NEWS03/703289896

Canton district receives more money, but still faces large shortfall http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20130329/NEWS05/703299916

Commentary:  We got peanuts and the Senate Majority leader gloats:

From Newsday:
Long Island school districts will receive a collective $121 million increase in school aid — more than 5 percent on average — under the new budget, Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said Tuesday.

Skelos, the legislature’s top Republican, said lawmakers added $58 million in operating aid for Long Island schools above what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed in January. They also blocked a Cuomo proposal to reduce a category of school funding called “high tax aid.” Island schools could have lost more than $40 million, more than any other region in the state.

Together, the additions brought the Island’s “share” of school aid to 12.96 percent, Skelos said, matching what it traditionally receives.

The Island will also receive hikes in state aid for bus service and highway aid.

“So it’s a win for Long Island,” Skelos declared.



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