Area school officials are happy and relieved to learn they are in line to receive more state aid that will help preserve programs and staff.
The Legislature’s proposed budget would increase the amount of education aid to $21.1 billion, about $942 million more than the current year. The aid increase is more than double the $422 million Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called for in his spending plan.
After years of cuts or flat aid, Capital Region superintendents were grateful to have a little more breathing room in their budgets.
The first number is total state aid for the 2012-13 year; the second is projected aid for the 2013-14 year:
• Albany: $77.05 million; $83 million
• Guilderland: $20.7 million; $21.4 million
• North Colonie: $16.9 million; $17.2 million
• South Colonie: $19.3 million; $20 million
• Broadalbin-Perth: $15.08 million; $15.09 million
• Gloversville: $37.7 million; $38.7 million
• Johnstown: $16.9 million; $17.8 million
• Mayfield: $8.5 million; $8.8 million
• Northville: $3.3 million; $3.6 million
• Amsterdam: $33.4 million; $38.6 million
• Canajoharie: $11.2 million; $11.9 million
• Fonda-Fultonville: $13.1 million; $14.1 million
• Fort Plain: $11.85 million; $12.6 million
• Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville: $11.2 million; $13 million
• Ballston Spa: $23.4 million; $25.2 million
• Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake: $18.4 million; $19.3 million
• Corinth: $9.2 million; $9.8 million
• Galway: $6.8 million; $7.3 million
• Mechanicville: $8.2 million; $8.8 million
• Saratoga Springs: $28.1 million; $29 million
• Schuylerville: $13.6 million; $14.3 million
• Shenendehowa: $38.1 million; $39.3 million
• South Glens Falls: $22.3 million; $23 million
• Stillwater: $9.45 million; $9.9 million
• Waterford-Halfmoon: $6.0 million; $6.3 million
• Duanesburg: $5.9 million; $6.2 million
• Mohonasen: $17.5 million; $18.1 million
• Niskayuna: $18.8 million; $18.5 million
• Schalmont: $11.3 million; $12.2 million
• Schenectady: $94.3 million; $98.6 million
• Scotia-Glenville: $16 million; $16.8 million
• Cobleskill-Richmondville: $17.9 million; $19 million
• Middleburgh: $9.35 million; $10.5 million
• Schoharie: $9.3 million; $9.4 million
• Sharon Springs: $4.6 million; $5 million
• Gilboa-Conesville: $2.9 million; $3 million
• Jefferson: $3.08 million; $3.18 million
NOTE: Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville are operating as separate districts for the 2012-13 school year, but will merge for the 2013-14 school year.
“Any time I don’t hear the word ‘cut,’ I get excited,” said Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo.
Amsterdam is getting about $5 million more in aid, for a total of $38.6 million, but a good chunk of that is one-time building aid to pay down debt from a capital project. Even with that taken out, school officials will see another $1.6 million.
“It’s really going to assist us in keeping our personnel and our programs that we desperately need,” he said.
Perillo cited enhancing the district’s academic intervention services for struggling students as one area to spend the money.
The district is planning to keep the tax levy flat for a second year in a row because of the state aid increase and the fact that it was able to renegotiate some of its union contracts, according to Perillo.
Chris Abdoo, assistant superintendent for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District, was in a school board meeting when he got the good news about the aid increase.
“It’s always nice to know that state aid is increasing. It obviously makes our jobs easier when we can keep our local property taxes down,” he said.
The Board of Education was already planning to adopt a budget that is under the state-mandated property tax cap and this helps in reaching that goal, Abdoo said.
Saratoga Springs City School District officials are also putting together a budget below its tax cap, which in its case is 4.8 percent. Its current draft budgets are in the neighborhood of a 3.9 percent tax levy increase, according to Kurt Jaeger, assistant superintendent for business.
The district would be getting $29 million in state aid. Excluding building project aid, the district is getting $22.9 million, about $1.1 million more than this year.
The next step for the school board, Jaeger said, is to decide whether it wants to use this additional money to lower the potential tax increase or restore positions that were to be cut. The district was considering not replacing more than 11 teachers that would be lost through attrition this year.
“We’re trying to find the balance point between a good program and what the community could support,” he said.
Mohonasen Central School District spokeswoman Adrienne Leon said the district had more aid restored that had been cut under the so-called Gap Elimination Adjustment the state used to balance its budget. The district would get about $656,000 more in aid, for a total of $18.1 million.
The district is trying to trim its budget by about $400,000 and the Board of Education will revisit its budget and potential cuts at its April 8 meeting.
Not all districts are celebrating. The Niskayuna Central School District would receive about $210,000 more in aid than under the governor’s proposal, but the $18.5 million total aid is still about $260,000 less than the district received this year, according to Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio.
“We appreciate that the collective voices of the Niskayuna community and schools around the region were heard and that our elected officials worked to provide some additional support for next year in targeted areas,” she said in a news release. “However, the fact remains that we will face a fourth consecutive year with less funding from the state next year. There is no doubt that this again forces some difficult decisions about taxes and student programs in a district that is continuing to meet its mission of preparing young people for success in the future.”