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Local News

January 23, 2013

Area officials: School aid likely not enough to cover mandated costs

Don’t expect the upcoming school budget season to be any better than last year, area school officials said after hearing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposals for aid to education.

The state aid totals were released late Tuesday following the 2013-14 budget proposal. Several local officials said they were not yet certain how their district would fare when the proposals are fully analyzed, but the aid will not be enough to meet mandated cost increases in such areas as employee retirement services and health insurance.

The total year-to-year increase proposed for schools is $889 million, or 4.4 percent. This includes a $611 million increase, or 3 percent increase, in general school aid.

Another $203 million, or 1 percent increase, is in recognition of extraordinary increases in fixed costs, such as mandated growth in pension costs, according to media release from Cuomo’s office.

At Unatego Central School, business manager Nicholas Rosas said the proposed $379,606 increase is still being analyzed to see if it is accurate. While some of the money that the state has subtracted from school aid in previous years to balance its budget has been restored, “there is still a long way to go before he can understand how accurate the numbers are,” he said.

Proposals Cuomo has made to help with retirement costs might be helpful, Rosas said. He said he was still waiting to see the details in that area as well.

But whatever the outcome, the budget season will be harder because the district is running out of areas to cut after several years of state aid reductions, Rosas said. Last year to keep within the state’s tax cap, the district consolidated its two elementary schools, he said.

“Everything is on the table this year” when those discussions begin, Rosas said, including nonmandated services and closing Otego

Elementary School.

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