Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed school aid package could result in increases in state aid for the Westbury and Carle Place school districts, but possibly less for Hicksville and East Meadow, Westbury Schools could see an increase of 7.75 percent, or $2.3 million. The district received $30.3 million in state aid this year.
But the governor’s state aid package has a long way to go. It must be approved by the state legislature, which will be considering the school aid package in the coming months.
Carle Place Schools will receive $52,833 in additional aid next year if Cuomo’s plan goes through.
“It’s pretty much what we were expecting, but I’m not going to complain about the thinking that high-needs school districts should get a little bit more,” said Carle Place Superintendent David Flatley, who noted that before the recession, the district received approximately $800,000 more per year.
Flatley said he called local elected officials in support of the proposal, which includes a new suggestion to help stabilize teacher’s pension contribution rates.
“The pension contribution rate for this year – without the governor’s proposal – is going to be well in excess of a million dollars. That’s just the increase this year and that swallows up a greater than 2 percent increase in our budget all by itself, so that’s a gigantic hit for [the district] and the people in the community.
“What he [Governor Cuomo] is recommending is that we pick a contribution rate of 12 percent of our payroll and pay that as a fixed cost for the next 25 years,” Flatley said, noting that pension contributions currently vary year-to-year.
The Carle Place superintendent explained that the expected pension contribution increase for the school’s upcoming budget, not considering Cuomo’s potential proposal, will be “about four and a half percentage points – that’s the big gorilla in the budget.”
Flatley added, “The advantage that creates for school districts is that retirement costs become a fixed number in your budget. When you’re under a tax cap situation, having fixed costs at or near zero percent increases every year is a very smart way to do budgeting. “
Many nearby school districts may receive less money in the upcoming year, including Hicksville and East Meadow, which might receive a 1.79 and .69 percent decrease in state aid next year, respectively.
“I’m very concerned by how the governor is removing some high tax aid from our schools. The school districts in Nassau County were particularly negatively affected by the governor’s proposal, particularly Farmingdale, East Meadow and Massapequa. The high tax is greatly concerning us right now,” Assemblyman Tom McKevitt said.
Senator Jack Martins avoided classifying schools based on financial assistance.
“The governor’s budget is a proposal and, as we negotiate a final budget for New York State, I will be working with my colleagues toward securing more state aid for Long Island school districts,” Senator Jack Martins said. “In this economy, every school district is a high-needs district when it comes to funding.”
The governor’s budget must be ratified by April 1.