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September 22, 2017
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Stillwater News

Aid increases, GEA remains in Governor's budget proposal

Jan. 28, 2014 - The state’s investment in schools would increase by $807 million or 3.8 percent next year if enacted as outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget, which he presented on Jan. 21. Under the proposal, Stillwater would see an overall aid increase of $10 million, although state funding for the district would remain less than it was in 2009-10 due to the state aid reductions of recent years.

The bulk of Stillwater’s aid increase is in expense-driven aid, which reimburses districts for certain expenditures made in the prior year. Because those expenditures have increased, particularly in the areas of special education and private school placements, Stillwater’s reimbursement will increase as well. Foundation aid (or general operating aid), however, remains frozen.

The overall statewide increase includes funding that the governor has earmarked for the launch of several new education initiatives. They include:

  • Investing $720 million over a five-year period in afterschool programs. Districts would have to submit plans to the State Education Department for approval.
  • A phase-in of universal, full-day pre-kindergarten statewide. Cuomo proposed spending $1.5 billion over five years to phase in the program. It’s not yet clear if the pre-kindergarten program would be a requirement for schools or an option that would come with new state funding. Stillwater currently has a half-day UPK program.
  • A $2 billion bond for a Smart Schools initiative to go before voters in November. If approved, the bond would give schools money for infrastructure improvements related to high-speed broadband access and classroom technology (e.g., smartboards, tablets). Schools could also use the funds to construct new pre-kindergarten classrooms, if the funds allow or if they prefer. The state would distribute the funds to schools based on the existing state aid formula.
  • An $8 million SUNY/CUNY full-scholarship program for the top 10 percent of high school graduates. Eligible graduates must pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or math and work in New York State for five years following graduation from college.
  • A $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund that would allow teachers rated as “highly effective” to be eligible to receive rewards of up to $20,000 annually.
 

Remaining in his proposal is the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which was introduced in 2010 as a way for the state government to close its budget deficit. It did so by spreading the funding shortfall around to all school districts through a GEA reduction to the overall Foundation Aid due to schools. Despite New York’s anticipated surplus, the governor’s proposal calls for only a partial restoration ($323 million) of funds withheld from districts through the GEA.

Stillwater has lost more than $7 million to the GEA in the last four years. Under the Governor’s budget proposal, Stillwater would see a GEA restoration of $94,000 – but still face a GEA cut of more than $1 million in aid owed to the district. Find out how you can be an advocate for Stillwater students, on topics such as the GEA.

Stillwater school leaders are currently reviewing projected aid for the district under the Governor’s proposal as part of the district's 2014-15 budget planning.

The Executive Budget also proposes a two-year property tax freeze for homeowners residing in school districts that meet certain conditions. During the first year of the freeze, a district would have to pass a budget with a levy that stays within its property tax levy cap. During the second year, in addition to again staying within its cap, a district would have to agree to and implement a state-approved plan for shared services and consolidation.

The Executive Budget Proposal will now be considered by state legislators. The deadline for a final state budget is April 1.

Visit http://www.budget.ny.gov/ for more details on the governor’s budget.

To learn more about the GEA, watch the video below:

 

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