As the smoke clears from a weekend of intense budget negotiations in Albany it remains unclear if rural high-needs school districts like Granville will see much restoration in state aid in the $132.5 billion state spending plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state leaders announced Sunday March 27 they had a budget agreement that restored some of the education aid cuts while also producing an on time budget for state following a year when state leaders squabbled into August before producing the second latest spending plan in state history.
However, district officials say questions abound as the state’s budget moves toward approval regarding how much the restoration might be and how the $272 million in restored education aid will be distributed.
“We’re still moving forward with the information we have at this time, if we have changes in state aid our plan might change some, but if it is not that significant we’re going to stay on the same path to allow us to remain financially solvent for the next few years,” Superintendent Mark Bessen said.
Business manager Cathy Somich said she waited all day Monday without word on the district’s ‘aid run’ and said Tuesday she expected the numbers might not be released until Wednesday as state officials finalize the budget for the vote.
Somich said she “had her fingers crossed” the aid restoration will not somehow be diverted to New York City schools or spread out among districts that don’t need the aid as badly, reducing the amount headed for Granville coffers.
With no word on the amount of restored state aid, Somich and Bessen said it was unclear if it could save jobs in the district.
“Possibly it could save a couple of jobs, maybe we will not be cut as deeply,” Somich said.
Bessen said only with a firm number from the state could officials begin to formulate any kind of plan regarding restored funds.
After the final number is announced Somich said district officials will likely sit down with the heaviest hit area, the high school, and see what restorations could be made.
Any additional income in the form of restored state aid will not equate immediately to restored jobs, district officials will have to sit down when they know the amount and figure out what cuts they must make.
The aid run indicates how much funding was restored after state leaders negotiated restoration of 20 percent of the $1.5 billion in state education aid cuts initially proposed by the governor.
In the February aid run based on the governor’s tentative budget Granville school district officials found out they lost a whopping $904,748 bringing about a total of $1.72 million aid lost in just two years.
Granville’s budget, unlike other wealthier school district across the state, takes in 60 percent of its income from state sources – $15,068,629.