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Schenectady unhappy with school aid hike

District still faces $9.2M budget gap

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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— State education aid to the Schenectady City School District isn’t increasing enough to take layoffs and service cuts off the table.

The negotiated state budget increases state aid to Schenectady’s schools by almost $4.5 million compared to last year’s enacted state budget. The 4.5 percent increase brings the state’s education aid to $98.57 million, which is about $365,000 more than what was proposed in the initial budget from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Schenectady schools Superintendent Larry Spring, who has been a vocal advocate for bringing more aid to high-needs districts, said the increase compared to the governor’s budget was “pretty good.” He had hoped the final budget would have millions more for the city compared to what was proposed, however.

The additional aid means the district is facing a $9.2 million deficit heading into the school budget season. At this point, Spring said, the school board wants a budget that doesn’t raise the tax levy and only uses $2 million in reserve funds.

“In order to bridge that gap, it will mean an impact on staffing, programs and services,” he said, with some minor savings possible by finding efficiencies.

Spring added that this experience has given him a sense of political reality and reminded him that he needs to continue to make his case about the failings in the state’s foundation formula for schools.

Aid for the Schoharie Central School District increased more than a half-million dollars from last year, to $9.4 million in this budget. Schoharie County’s overall increase in aid from last year was $3.3 million, which brought the total money to schools in the county up to $50.3 million.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, called this budget a step forward in helping low-wealth upstate schools, but lamented the fact that more wasn’t done to help ease the pain of a Gap Elimination Adjustment, which cost schools in Schoharie County more than $5 million.

The Greater Amsterdam School District is getting $38.64 million in the state budget, an increase of more than $5 million from last year. Regarding this aid, and the $8.5 million total increase in state aid for schools in Montgomery County, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said more needs to be done on unfunded mandates.

“Without addressing these burdensome costs, we tie the hands of those who know what’s best for our children,” he said in a statement.

State aid for the Scotia-Glenville Central School District is scheduled to increase about $724,000, to $16.75 million. The Johnstown City School District will get an increase of about $867,000, to $17.8 million in this budget. The Shenendehowa Central School District will receive $39.3 million in aid, an increase of $1.2 million. The Saratoga Springs City School District is getting bumped up about $871,000, to $28.99 million.

A full breakdown of funding for school districts is available on the Capital Region Scene blog at www.dailygazette.com.

 
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