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Impacts of Cuts in State School Aid Would Vary

Impacts of Cuts in State School Aid Would Vary February 1, 2024
Lake George Jr-Sr High School. Photo by Thom Randall.
Lake George Jr-Sr High School. Photo by Thom Randall.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to reconfigure the formula by which state aid to schools is apportioned will deprive Adirondack districts of essential operating revenues, Assemblyman Matt Simpson said January 22.

Relatively wealthy school districts such as Bolton and Lake George, which are less dependent upon state aid, would be among the least affected.

But according to Simpson, many rural schools could face building closures, the cancellation of extracurricular programs and teacher layoffs.

According to the teachers’ union (NYSUT,) the proposal would slash more than $400 million in public school aid, devastating rural communities where school budgets rely heavily on so-called Foundation Aid.

Warrensburg Central School, for instance, draws upon state aid for more than half of its $22.9 million budget. Under the Governor’s proposal, its state aid would be cut by 10.4%, or by more than $1 million.

Hadley-Luzerne, the only school district within the Adirondack Park characterized by the New York State Comptroller’s office as “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress,” would lose $1.1 million.

Bolton would lose more than 40% of its state aid, but relatively little in dollar amounts: $217,599, or less than 2.5% of its $10.3 million budget.

Lake George’s state aid would be cut by 39%, or by $664,259. Its operations are funded with a $22.9 million budget.

Property tax levy growth will be capped at 2% for school districts this year, preventing many districts from offsetting lost state revenues with higher property taxes.

Among other things, Governor Hochul’s proposal would retract the state’s guarantee that no school district will ever receive less state aid than it did the previous year.

In 2023-24, total state aid reported by school districts (excluding the largest cities) rose to $16.7 billion from the previous year’s $15.1 billion, a 10.1% increase, according to the state Comptroller’s office.

The Comptroller’s office stated the increases in aid to schools in recent years were generated by three major, multiyear federal grants to New York during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless of the source of the education aid, Assemblyman Simpson said the governor’s proposed cuts were “unprecedented.”

“This terribly flawed state formula was brought on by leaders ignoring teachers and professionals who need adequate support and funding to perform their jobs, so children receive the best possible education to help set them up for future success. Rural students and communities deserve to have confidence in the school system again,” said Simpson.

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