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Most schools see aid increases in Governor’s proposed budget

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North Country schools may finally get some of money they’ve been asking for.

In Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2013-14 executive Budget Proposal, most schools are seeing increases in aid after years of budget cuts.

This year’s budget proposal takes less money out to offset the state’s deficit, also known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, according to Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Jack J. Boak Jr.

“We were hoping they’d eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment completely, but they didn’t do that,” he said.

He said that while schools are receiving more money, many schools have been “teetering on the edge of insolvency” for several years.

“It’s not as good as we would have liked it,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo proposed aid ranges as high as $46.75 million for Indian River Central and as low as $2.3 million for Colton-Pierrepont Central.

In total:

■ Jefferson County schools are proposed to received $179,946,755 total aid, a $7,570,740 increase from this year’s state aid.

■ Lewis County schools are proposed to receive $54,077,946, a $1,008,939 increase from this year’s state aid.

■ St. Lawrence Country schools are proposed to receive $187,696,927, a $7,883,541 increase from this year’s state aid.

The biggest losses in total aid were found in both Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties.

■ Copenhagen Central is proposed to lose $192,714, a 2.6 percent decrease from what they received for the current year’s budget. The district has $ 7,270,210 in proposed aid for next year’s budget

■ Clifton-Fine Central is proposed to lose $59,610, a 1.3 percent decrease from the current year’s budget. The district has $4,474,814 in proposed aid for next year’s budget.

■ Colton Pierrepont Central is proposed to lose $84,481, a 3.5 percent decrease from the current year’s budget. It $2,310,469 in proposed aid for next year’s budget.

St. Lawrence also saw some of the biggest increases in proposed aid in the north country.

“Ogdensburg and Canton really stick out as the ones that got really good increases,” said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

Ogdensburg is looking at a 10.9 percent increase in proposed aid and about $23.4 million total. Canton has a 9.85 percent increase in proposed aid and about $14.3 million total.

NEW INITIATIVES PROPOSED

The governor’s proposed budget also reflects his support for full-day prekindergarten, increased time in the classroom, targeted aid for high-need districts and money to help offset increases in fixed costs like health care and retirement benefits.

“One of the things the school supers have been discussing is the spike in pension,” said Mrs. Russell. “What he’s proposing is to provide a long term stabilization program that would bring that down to 12.5 percent for the Teachers’ Retirement System.”

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, was happy to see that Mr. Cuomo wanted to funnel more money to needier districts

“I applaud the Governor’s effort to steer more education aid to rural schools like ours,” she said in a press release. “I look forward to studying his proposal with a goal of making the aid formula more equitable and making sure our schools get their fair share.”

Mrs. Russell agreed that the state aid formula needed to change to be more equitable.

“We not only need to drive the money to high-need schools, but we also need to change he formula,” she said.

The 2013-14 Executive Budget Proposal school state aid figures can be found at: http://publications.budget.ny.gov/eBudget1314/fy1314localities/schoolaid/1314schoolruns.pdf.

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