State begins 20% “hold” of aid for schools

Education

(WUTR) — With the school year right around the corner, districts’ tight budgets are starting to get tighter.

“As September aid payments start to come into districts, that’s when money starts to come back from New York State Back to School Districts,” said Dr. Patricia Kilburn with the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. “The money’s already starting to come in 20 percent short, with more still due and those additional funds that are coming in will also be reduced by 20 percent.”

State aid is one of the two largest revenue resources for New York schools; the other being property tax.

Some school districts have the reserve balance to accept the blow. Other districts will be able to pay their deficit off over a number of years.

“And unfortunately, we do have districts across the state that don’t have robust reserves,” said Kilburn. “And so, therefore, were unable to build that in, and may have to look at reductions.”

These reductions were not prepared for publicly in most school budgets. When communities voted on the budgets, it was for the full expected aid amount.

“At this time, there’s no further call that we’ve been made aware of for more cuts, but the government has told us that the potential for that does exist and that’s why they built look-back periods into the budget,” said Kilburn.

Those look-back periods are for the state to modify their expenses in the middle of a fiscal year. If they get more money than expected, they will be able to provide more aid.

But, if they don’t get as much money as expected, they can also take away more aid.

“We may find out that the 20 percents going to end up not being on hold and really being gone,” said Kilburn. “And maybe federal stimulus money puts the state in a position where no further reductions are required.”

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