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Local News

January 24, 2014

Cuomo's plans make some area schools cringe

(Continued)

“They will be advocates for our concerns,” he said.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said the end of the gap elimination adjustment is “my top priority” when it comes to this year’s educational funding. But that would take $1.6 billion, he said, and with Cuomo proposing $323 million toward that goal, “we have a long way to go.” At the least, Seward said, a significant portion could be reduced so it can be eliminated by next year at the latest.

As other parts of the budget are reviewed, more money could be found to direct to school aid, Seward said. He added that while universal prekindergarten is a worthy idea, he would hate to see it put current programs put at stake for lack of funding.

Seward said he has already met with the school officials, but now that Cuomo has issued his proposal, there will be more opportunities to meet before the legislature adds its plan. “We are early in the process, there are a lot of details to be worked out,” Seward said.

At Franklin Central School, Superintendent Gordon Daniels said that while the proposal looks “pretty good,” he expects the property tax cap to be about 1.46 percent — which, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, is next year’s projected consumer price index.

That won’t provide much additional aid, he said. The Cuomo proposal calls for an increase of $192,529 without building aid, a 6.27-percent increase.

While the GEA has been reduced, the foundation aid is flat, Daniels said. An increase in cost-driven categorical aid, such as transportation, would help, he said. The school has taken such steps as staffing cuts and changes in insurance to weather the tough economic times, but “we need to be careful and frugal” in this year’s budget plan, he said.

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