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Apr 1, 2014 4:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Aid Increases For Schools, Not Enough For Some Districts

Apr 1, 2014 5:42 PM

The $140 billion state budget signed into law Monday for the 2014-15 fiscal year includes some much-needed relief for local school districts, but not quite as much as many were hoping for.

The spending plan will distribute $22 billion in state aid for the coming fiscal year, an increase of $1.1 billion, or a 5.3-percent jump. Part of this bump in funding comes from a $600 million reduction in the Gap Elimination Adjustment, from $1.6 billion to $1 billion, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. explained on Tuesday afternoon.

The Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, is a program originally created in 2009 by former Governor David Paterson in which the state reduced the aid it gives to schools so it could reallocate that money elsewhere to help close the state’s $10 billion deficit during the height of the most recent economic recession. With Albany projecting a $500 million surplus in 2015, many Long Island school districts were pushing for the State Legislature, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, to end the GEA altogether and restore school funding to its 2008 levels.

Despite not achieving the ultimate goal of eliminating the GEA, local superintendents expressed appreciation to both Mr. Thiele and State Senator Kenneth LaValle for securing additional funding for their schools. That group includes Tuckahoe School District Superintendent Chris Dryer.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dryer said he is appreciative of the efforts of the state representatives in helping his district secure $977,701 in state funding for the 2014-15 fiscal year—or 7.4 percent more than it received this year. Tuckahoe will now see a $67,000 bump up in state funding, some $13,000 more than it would have received under Mr. Cuomo’s original spending plan.

Mr. Dryer also said he hopes that officials continue discussions and opt to end the GEA next year.

“There has been a large ... one-voice push to talk about the GEA,” he said, referring to school administrators across Long Island. “So, we would hope that would be part of the discussion in the future, so we wouldn’t have any more of our money taken from state aid.”

Mr. Thiele, who introduced legislation with Mr. LaValle in February that would have eliminated the GEA for fiscally stressed school districts in the coming year—and all districts starting in the 2015-16 school year—said this week that the GEA could be eliminated, and all school funding reinstated, as early as the next fiscal year.

In the meantime, Mr. Thiele said all but two of his school districts—East Hampton and William Floyd—saw their state funding increase by more than the state average of 5.3 percent. He said he hopes this will allow those districts to pass their budgets this spring without having to pierce the state’s mandatory tax levy increase cap, set at 1.48-percent for the next school year.

“I think the budget has met their expectations or exceeds their expectations,” Mr. Thiele said, referring to local administrators. “With tax caps and mandates, they can always use more, but the response I’ve gotten is generally a happy and satisfied one.”

But not all the districts on the East End will be getting enough state aid to avoid tough decisions come budget adoption time. Despite being in line to receive nearly $1.12 million in state aid, almost $100,000 more than last year, the East Quogue School District might still have to attempt to pierce the cap, School Superintendent Les Black said Tuesday.

East Quogue attempted to pierce the cap last year and fell seven votes shy of the necessary 60 percent approval to do so. Still, Mr. Black said his district’s Board of Education is considering taking another swing at it this year to avoid having to cut more programs and staff.

“We’re certainly appreciative of the fact that there is an increase. However, I don’t know if the increase is enough to close the gap,” Mr. Black said. “I’m not certain at this point and I’m not confident that there is enough money coming from the state to avoid making cuts.”

Despite being the only South Fork school district not to see its funding increase by at least the state average, East Hampton also got the second highest amount of total funding with more than $2.76 million, trailing only the Hampton Bays School District, which will receive almost $4.9 million.

Overall, state funding for the East Hampton School District will increase by about $110,000, or nearly 4.2 percent, according to a press release from Mr. Thiele’s office.

“We didn’t really know whether the Gap Elimination Adjustment would have much of an effect on us,” East Hampton Board of Education President Patricia Hope said Tuesday. “Today, we got the information and we’ll sit down and figure out what it all means.”

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Nice response from the EQ superintendent. Despite getting more state aid again it appears that the BOE will attempt to pierce the tax cap. The residents of EQ stand to lose more this time around.....we will not get a NYS Rebate check if the EQ School District is successful in their attempt for once again pierce the tax cap. A double whammy for the EQ School District home owners. There never seems to be enough money in this one, small school !!!! Shameful what they are doing to the homeowners.......how ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 3, 14 7:49 AM
There you are Crusader. We were worried about you. Maybe you were busy suing the Town of Brookhaven again for anti-discriminatory practices? Why don't you check with the Governor's Office about those hefty rebate checks. There are no specifics.You'll be lucky if the rebate check is enough to fill up your gas tank. That's just another political shell game he is playing. I am sure we can expect rounds of negative, anti -East Quogue School posts on your part for the next few months. You have such ...more
By Eqeducation (8), East Quogue on Apr 3, 14 1:50 PM
3 members liked this comment
Hey, don't worry about me, perhaps you should be concerned about how to sell piercing the EQ tax cap to the taxpayers. You seem to be quite a creative writer so that should be a no brainer for you. By the way according to Governor Cuomo's office homeowners stand to receive a rebate of between $300 - $500 in November. If you have your way we won't be receiving a check. I don't know what kind of car you drive, but that money will fill up my gas tank many times.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 3, 14 2:25 PM
Crusader, I wish you would get your facts checked before you post. The $350 rebate check you are referring to will go to middle-class families this Fall if they have a child between 2 and 18 years old. (I'm guessing you won't be getting one) It has nothing to do with the school budget. It's simply Cuomo's way of using tax dollars to buy votes.
Cuomo stated that the homeowner credit "could" happen in two years and there has been NO figure given to what it would be IF it even appears.
Apr 4, 14 10:20 AM appended by cmac
I stand corrected...you may get a check this year on the school portion, but I believe your $300-$500 estimation to be overinflated.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 4, 14 10:20 AM
cmac, You might want to read the NYS Budget which was passed along with the press releases..........You also might want to call Governor Cuomo's Office if YOU can't find the facts yourself when you google it. The $300 - $500 dollar figure was given by Governor Cuomo's Office and is for homeowners whose school districts don't exceed the 2% tax cap!!!! Now, again tell me why I should vote in favor for any EQ school budget which will attempt to pierce the cap?
My 2013/14 TOS property tax portion ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 4, 14 2:06 PM
I have seen estimates of $50 to a few hundred dollars in the first year. The estimated $300 average is for the two years combined.
The staffing and program reductions at our school have been a hard pill to swallow, but we have done it. Parents even asked for a referendum to cut busing! The belt has been tightened and it doesn't have any holes left! There is nothing left to cut without seriously affecting the children in our community. If our budget does not pass because of an election year ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 4, 14 4:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
I respect your position on why you would be in favor of any budget which would pierce the tax cap in the East Quogue School District. How about respecting the position of those who do not favor piercing the tax cap? I am not alone in my common sense reason for not wanting the tax cap pierced. With that in mind, that is why the proponents such as yourself were unable to exceed the 2% tax cap last year. The 60% needed was not there. Perhaps, a look at the non productive employees who are politically ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 7:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
This Tuesday, April 8th @ 7:45 there will be a Budget Workshop Meeting at the school. Please come. If you can not come, or afraid to voice your questions and concerns in front of parents please post them here. I will forward them to the Board. I am not trying to be condescending with my next question so please do not take it that way. Who are these politically connected non productive employees you are referring to? I am definitely in favor of cutting anyone who is non productive, but I haven't ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 9:31 AM
All kidding aside, do you think the taxpayers who voted against overriding the tax cap will attend anymore Board of Education Meetings? The lack of respect for those who have differing opinions have met with scorn and ridicule. Rather than try and find common ground where we can all meet halfway personal attacks are the norm rather than the exception. For instance, Eqeducation. Do you think that untruths bring a community together or further divide them? Again, let me reiterate I respect your position..........but ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 11:04 AM
You didn't answer the question? Name these politically connected, non productive employees.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 5, 14 1:10 PM
Hey bubby, your wife works in the EQ school so why don't you ask her??
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 2:04 PM
Way to avoid answering the question. You throw out an inaccurate insinuation and can't back it up with a single name. This seems to be typical of your postings about the EQ school. Just one name. Can't do it?
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 5, 14 2:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Let me clarify my statement, "non essential politically connected employees should be let go before any cuts that will affect the children take place." No insinuation just the truth, its not that I can't do it, I won't. If the parents do their due diligence they can find out the names themselves. Do you think if they ask administration, they might find out? I think not. bubby if you personally want to know ask your wife, I'm sure she will give you the names in confidence. Would you then post them ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 2:31 PM
Keep back pedaling. It suits you well.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 5, 14 3:19 PM
Back pedaling, bubby? Changing non productive to non essential seems so more on point. Hmm, I can't fathom why anyone would favor keeping non essential employees over the welfare of the students. That is except if someone close to them is one of those non essential employees.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 4:09 PM
Ha! You're on to me. Can't fool you can I.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 5, 14 4:33 PM
Define for me exactly what you mean by a non essential employee.
By bubby (236), southampton on Apr 5, 14 4:39 PM
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 5, 14 4:40 PM
Nice to see the East Quogue BOE represented on this forum Eqeducation. Clearly the three long term BOE members who were elected to be fiscally responsible were not. Oh, I know I am to blame for pointing out some of the issues which have caused spending to balloon out of control at the EQ Elementary School. It is shameful that some long time residents have to leave their homes because the school taxes keep going higher. Who is responsible if not the BOE who let this happen???????????
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Apr 8, 14 1:52 PM
Thank you, Eqeducation, for your comment! East Quogue is a wonderful little school with some of the most amazing teachers, staff and administrators! There has been so many cuts in the past few years it is painful. We all want our children to have a well rounded, enriching education and the more cuts the BOE is forced to make the more difficult it becomes to provide that education!
By eqmomof3 (22), EAST QUOGUE on Apr 3, 14 2:15 PM
1 member liked this comment