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Schools getting share of $15M 'bullet' pot

State Senate will distribute funds to struggling districts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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— More than half a million dollars in state aid from a pot of funds controlled by the state Senate is being disbursed among a few cash-strapped school districts in the Capital Region.

Before leaving Albany for the summer on Saturday, the state Senate approved a resolution that distributes more than $15 million in education aid that was held over from the state budget. This money is referred to as “bullet aid” because it is designed to be targeted aid that fixes inequities in the state’s funding formula, although critics deride it as one of the few remaining bits of pork in the budget.

The Assembly distributed its $18 million in bullet aid during the budget process in March.

In both the state Senate and the Assembly, this money is controlled by the majority party and minority members almost never receive any of it for schools in their districts.

As he promised in May, Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, delivered $275,000 in bullet aid to the Niskayuna Central School District.

The other big local winner was the Schenectady City School District, which got $150,000 in extra aid. District Superintendent Larry Spring said he appreciated the money, which was also secured by Farley.

Spring added that the one-time aid doesn’t address the fundamental problems that plague the district. “When we think about the amount of aid that we need to put us on equal footing, we need to be thinking about $38 million of aid,” he said.

Schenectady school officials are currently in the process of determining how to use the money, with the goal of selecting a one-time expenditure that gets the biggest possible return on the investment. Starting up a health clinic, which Spring has considered in the past with non-recurring money because it just requires start-up funding, is a possibility with this new aid. If the funding had been guaranteed earlier in the year, he said they could have developed an intensive summer program.

Because of the late arrival of the money, which came after school budgets were approved, there isn’t a lot of flexibility for districts that want to use the money immediately.

In Schoharie County, $25,000 went to the Gilboa-Conesville Central School District, $25,000 to the Schoharie Central School District and $10,000 to the Middleburgh Central School District.

Libraries were also recipients of this aid, with $10,000 going to the Schenectady County Public Library, $5,000 to the Gloversville Public Library and $10,000 to the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.

The resolution approving this year’s aid also included the distribution of funds to additional libraries in the Capital Region. Some of this money included $5,000 to the Round Lake Library, $1,600 to the Saratoga Springs Public Library, $2,000 to the Schoharie Free Library Association and $2,000 to the Sharon Springs Free Library.

 
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June 26, 2013
3:34 p.m.
jjhehir says...

Just to keep things in perspective, the increase in pension costs in the 2013-2014 Niskayuna school budget was $1.35 million. Pension increases are the result of over-promising legislators and a low yielding bond market. The decrease in promised school aid was between $3 and $4 million. The money subsequently received from the legislature was $0.375 million.

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