School Money

Federal funds might help

Recent developments in Washington could bring a financial boost to school districts across New York state, but it remains too early to see what help could come Granville’s way, school officials said.


Federal lawmakers are expected to approve $2 billion in Medicaid reimbursement after the Senate passed the measure and the house is expected to follow suit sometime this week.
Additional education aid totaling as much as $607 million meant to avoid planned teacher layoffs across the state is expected as well. According to published reports, the amount New York could receive would eliminate or ease the unilateral cuts made as a part of the recently passed state budget.
Kathy Somich, business manager for the Granville school district, said what appears to be a windfall would merely offset what was cut out of the state’s education funding by Gov. David Paterson if the district is lucky.
The $1.4 billion across-the-board education aid cut cost Granville $765,000 in expected state education aid from the budget and Somich said it is unclear if the federal funding all comes to New York how much of it the school district could expect to help buoy its bottom line.
“We haven’t gotten any numbers yet; it’s too early,” Somich said last Friday.
Granville used $435,000 from the district’s fund balance to offset the cut and achieve a second straight year without a school tax increase for the 2010-2011 budget.
The final state aid “run” has not come in yet, meaning the school district does not know what its final education aid will actually be for this budget cycle; the $765,000 was an estimate the state provided for budget work, Somich said.
Far from anticipating any additional funding from any source, Somich said, she has been bracing for the possibility of $400 million in additional education cuts by the state.
Those cuts would be coming just as the district is setting the tax rate and already has a budget in place, she said.
This worst case scenario would have meant attaching the cost of any additional education funding cuts onto next year’s budget, effectively adding to any cuts in state aid for 2011-2012.
Now, Somich said, the best case scenario appears to be edging toward breaking even, meaning the school district gets back a significant portion of the funds cut by the governor in his budget plan.
“It will help to stabilize that threat but it’s not a windfall; it just helps keep it from getting worse,” Somich said. “If state gets $730 million that will be about 75 percent of what state would have been receiving so it’s not a one-for-one.”

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