State Budget Increases School Aid But Comes Up Short

The new $175.5 billion state budget includes an increase in aid for schools but at the smallest percentage gain in years.

State Sen. Jim Gaughran noted Monday that the budget provided record school funding for Long Island’s public schools and that he had  secured an additional $9.6 million in state aid for school districts in the 5th Senate District.

Aid for operating budgets will increase  2.9 percent while overall school aid will increase 3.7 percent.

But some school superintendents see problems in the  budget, even as they welcome the increase in aid.

South Huntington superintendent Dr. David Bennardo said, “Unfortunately, despite the staunch advocacy of our local senator and assemblyman, this year’s New York State budget provides the lowest increase in South Huntington’s school-aid funding in nearly a decade. This bad news for our district is compounded by the fact that the 2018-2019 school year aid estimate, which we were promised in April of 2018, has now been recalculated for a decrease of $884,478.  In other words, in April of 2018 the New York State budget included $37,362,297 in aid to South Huntington. This aid, which is distributed by NYS throughout the year, was factored into our spending plan, which was approved by the public on May 8, 2018. Unfortunately, the new state aid estimate for the current year (2018-2019) has been recalculated to $36,477,819. Therefore, we are beginning next year’s (2019-2020) budgeting process with $884,478 less than we calculated one year ago today. In essence, the recently released $37,560,077 New York State Aid for South Huntington represents only $197,780 (.54%).

“The harsh reality is that this type of New York State Aid funding is simply unsustainable.”

Huntington superintendent James W. Polansky said, “As thankful as we are for any additional increases in aid, the volume of mandated costs, including many that are relatively new, will exceed that increase.  While Huntington’s Foundation Aid is slated to increase, the overall aid package (after accounting for all expense-based categories) will increase by $178,284 (approximately one percent) over the current year’s package.  This is obviously far less than what is needed to address increases in non-discretionary costs for 2019-2020.”

Dr. Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of Elwood schools said, “We always appreciate the efforts of our elected officials in advocating for both Education and the Long Island region. While some aid allocations will fall short of the needs of individual districts, we understand that it is a difficult fiscal cycle throughout the state.  We are thankful that education was made a priority by our elected leaders.”

School superintendents David Bennardo and Jim Polansky.

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