Governor's budget would cut $2 million in S-G state aid
Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his spending
proposals for the state’s 2011-12 fiscal year on February 1.
The plan, which must still be accepted by
the state Legislature, includes a $2.02 million (11.6 percent)
state aid reduction to Scotia-Glenville.
The district will be able to balance part of
the state aid loss with the $804,000 federal education jobs bill
funding that was approved by Congress in August. That is a
one-time source of revenue.
According to information from the state,
Scotia-Glenville received $17.36 million in state aid this year
and can expect $15.34 million next year.
Technically, state aid (also known as
Foundation Aid) remains frozen at current levels and other aids,
such as for building reimbursement, transportation and BOCES, were
allowed as in the past. Those latter aids are reimbursements on
money already spent by the school district.
However, the state then assesses a “GAP
elimination adjustment,” which is subtracted from the district’s
total aid. For the current year, the GAP adjustment was $2.83
million; for the 2011-12 school year, Cuomo has projected S-G’s
GAP adjustment to be $3.7 million.
In all, Cuomo a proposed a $1.5 billion, or
7.3 percent reduction in total state education expenditures to
cope with New York’s own serious fiscal problems. That reduction
is in actual, year-to-year dollars – not through a
slower-than-planned rate of increase.
The Governor’s budget proposal contained a
series of other elements that would impact school districts across
the state, from limiting reimbursements for special education
summer school to the prospect of some relief from mandated
expenses that drive up costs.
Looking ahead to Scotia-Glenville’s
If the state aid gap were filled by
increasing taxes, with no spending reductions, it would lead to an
8 percent tax rate increase at Scotia-Glenville.
Superintendent Susan Swartz, who will
present a proposed 2011-12 budget on February 28, has said
previously that reductions in spending will be needed next year.
She will present the budget to the Board of Education at 7 p.m. on
February 28 at the middle school. The Board of Education will
review it at 7 p.m. on Mondays, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 at the
The community considers the budget during
voting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at the high
Scotia-Glenville’s Board of Education, over the past several
years, has kept a tight lid on tax rates and spending, essentially
imposing its own tax cap.
Since the 2006-07 budget, the
Scotia-Glenville school tax rate has risen from $19.21 per $1,000
assessed value that year to the current $20.01 per $1,000 assessed
That is a 4.2% increase over five years.
Many area school districts have increased their tax rates that
much in a single year.
For the typical Scotia-Glenville homeowner
with a $160,000 assessment, that means a $128 increase in school
taxes since 2006 – $25.60 more per year on average.
During the past five years, the state’s
School TAx Reduction (STAR) program reimbursement has also been
reduced and adjusted, in an effort to cut state costs. That has
led to higher net local tax bills.
Scotia-Glenville’s diligence has come as the
state froze or reduced state aid to schools while health care and
pension costs for its nearly 500 employees have risen steadily.
Scotia-Glenville’s overall spending since
2006 has increased from $42.01 million to the current $47.33
million. That is an increase of 12.7 percent over five years - 2.5
percent on average per year.
Over the past two years especially,
Scotia-Glenville leaders have tightened spending in the face of
rising costs and reduced state aid.
In the 2009-10 school budget, there was no
increase in state aid. At Scotia-Glenville, $1.3 million in costs
were trimmed, including the elimination of 5.2 full-time
In the current 2010-11 budget, state aid was
cut by $2.3 million. The budget cut spending by $2 million,
including 19.7 full-time positions.
Part of the state aid loss will also be
offset by a large number of retirements that the Board of
Education has accepted. So far, the board has accepted 15 teacher
retirements and three administrative retirements. There is usually
a savings after a retirement because the person who retires is
paid more than his or her replacement will be paid.
Cuomo has appointed a Mandate Relief team that is set to report
back by March 1. That team will conducting a rigorous and
comprehensive review of mandates imposed on school districts and
other local taxing districts in order to look for the best and
most cost-effective ways to deliver mandated programs and services
and also identify those that are ineffective, unnecessary,
outdated and duplicative.
School officials statewide are hopeful that
there will be mandate relief from the state’s myriad of
requirements on schools.
The state Senate has also approved a 2
percent cap on school tax levies that is set to become effective
with the 2012-13 school year. The cap, which would have to be
approved by the state Assembly, has a limited exception for
voter-approved capital expenditures.
Educational organizations statewide have
said that without mandate relief and other measures at the state
level to help control costs, school districts would be unable to
meet their basic expenses without deep cuts to educational
programs under a property tax cap.
The state budget proposal continues the STAR
property tax relief program. It introduces a mechanism to prevent
benefit increases when property values decline, and also limits
the growth in exemption benefits to two percent annually.
The state budget is scheduled to be passed
by the state Legislature by April 1, though disagreements between
the legislative and executive branches over the budget usually
means that state constitutional deadline is missed.