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Parishville-Hopkinton receives smallest aid increase in St. Lawrence County

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PARISHVILLE - With a projected state aid increase of only .03 percent in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2014-15 state budget, the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District will be crafting next year’s budget with essentially the same amount of money they had for this year’s spending plan.

“The governor’s proposal shows PHCS receiving essentially the same level of state funding that we received this school year, while operational costs continue to increase,” Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said.

According to the governor’s budget, the district is receiving only $1,773 in additional aid for next year, an increase that’s not enough to cover salary increases, health insurance increases or pension increases, let alone the district’s total increased costs.

“The amount we are scheduled to receive is less than the funding we received in the 2008-2009 school year,” he said, noting that until the gap elimination adjustment (GEA) is eliminated, he doesn’t see things getting much better.

The governor’s proposal for next year shows the district’s GEA reduced by $57,704, however, the state is still taking $281,287 in aid from the school.

“The GEA has cost millions of dollars to small north country school districts,” he said.

While the GEA has helped the state eliminate its budget gap, Mr. Saiff said it’s widening the gap between school districts in poor communities and affluent ones.

“It has become impossible for us to provide the same opportunities for our children that students have in wealthier districts across the state. Our students are simply not getting the same chance to succeed,” he said. “The gap between educational offerings in wealthy districts and poor districts is widening. The governor’s proposed school funding will continue to widen that gap for students who are educated in our region.”

Local school officials are expected to lobby the state Legislature to make significant increases in state aid to Gov. Cuomo’s proposal before the state budget is adopted this spring.

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