Oswego County’s schools will lose more than 15 million dollars in state aid to education under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget.
The devastating news showed up late Tuesday in data released by the state after Cuomo delivered an address in which he said that schools that have low wealth and depend heavily on state aid would be treated better than schools that have less need for state aid.
Instead, the data shows that, eliminating aid for operating school buildings, the county’s schools would absorb cuts of between 3.76% and 12.75%, far exceeding the statewide average.
“So much for the rhetoric,” said Fulton school district financial administrator Kathy Nichols, who listened to the Governor’s budget speech and hoped that the numbers would match his words.
Nichols’ review of the aid numbers found that the district would suffer a cut of nearly $1.5 million dollars in aid.
The loss of aid will only make filling the district’s budget deficit harder. Nichols said that the district needs $1.6 million more just to keep everything that’s in the 2011-2012 budget.
The aid numbers now make that gap more than $3 million – that’s about 5% of the current budget of about $60 million.
The district was also hoping to be able to carry a $1.7 million dollar surplus in its designated fund balance forward for one more year, to be able to weather the difficult year that is all but certain for the 2012-2013 budget year.
Instead, Cuomo said in his address that district should use their reserves to get through this year’s hard times.
“That’s just another one-shot,” scoffed Board of Education President Robbin Griffin, using the state’s term for one-time ways to raise revenues, such as last year’s fiasco over forcing everyone to buy a new license plate.
As the district’s budget committee met Tuesday night to continue reviewing district spending, the talk turned to the aid proposal and its effects on the school.
“It’s a frightening number,” said Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch.
“The reality is there’s going to be less money, no matter what,” said Griffin. “Things are not going to look the same next year.”
In Oswego, Peter Colucci, Assistant Superintendent for Business, said, “”The governor has presented his budget proposal and it provides us something to work off of as we continue to prepare our district’s budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. We understand that the New York State Assembly and Senate have to pass the budget and that the governor has to sign off on it in order to move forward with something concrete. However, it is nice to have something official to help us move forward, but there is still a long way to go in both Albany and Oswego.”