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St. Lawrence Central makes Rutgers list of top underfunded schools in state

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BRASHER FALLS — The St. Lawrence Central School District has found itself on a list of 50 districts in New York state with the largest formula funding shortfalls per pupil in 2013-14.

The list is contained in a 64-page report by a Rutgers University professor, Bruce D. Baker. It’s an update of a report that had previously been compiled, according to St. Lawrence Central Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr.

“On page 63 and 64 it shows the districts with the largest formula funding shortfalls per pupil. There’s Brasher Falls nestled right in there about 20th,” Mr. Vigliotti told Board of Education members Wednesday.

The list also includes Indian River Central in Jefferson County.

The report comes at a time when the St. Lawrence County district is preparing its 2014-15 budget and facing a $1.8 million gap.

It’s not the first time the Brasher Falls school has been included in such a report, Mr. Vigliotti said. Similar reports had been done in the past five years by the Statewide School Finance Consortium and Syracuse University.

According to its website, the Statewide School Finance Consortium is an organization of more than 400 New York state public school districts whose mission is to bring equity to the distribution of state education aid. Membership consists mostly of school districts from average and low-income communities.

Mr. Vigliotti said he plans to meet with state lawmakers from the area to go and “tell the story of Brasher Falls.”

Mr. Vigliotti said although the governor’s proposal shows about $1 million more in state aid for the district, that’s not the case. When the Gap Elimination Adjustment and other factors are figured, the actual increase for the district will be $400,000 to $450,000.

“Health care alone went up that much,” he said.

The state increase proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would fail to touch other increases the district was facing, such as employee and teacher retirement system contributions, he said. Among the district’s other increases, based on their preliminary numbers, are a nearly $1 million jump in personnel expenses including salaries and fringe benefits, according to the superintendent.

Altogether, also figuring in other costs such as utilities and debt service, Mr. Vigliotti said the district is looking at an increase in expenses of just over $2 million.

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