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Local News

January 24, 2014

Cuomo's plans make some area schools cringe

(Continued)

Delaware Academy Central School Superintendent Jason Thomson said he was concerned that Cuomo is providing extra funds to new programs while “we are struggling to maintain what we have.” The district would receive an additional $100,179, a 1.69-percent increase.

A lot of the budget issues and concerns facing Delhi and other schools could be relieved with meaningful non-funded mandate relief, Thomson said, including extra audits and other administrative processes. All of the added assessments and changes to curriculum have largely been handled by the local districts, he said, without additional assistance, adding that state mandates in special education are also much greater than federal requirements.

“(Cuomo’s) focus is on new programs,” Thomson said. “We need to sustain what we have.”

It’s too early to tell if the district is in better shape than last year, he said, but the proposal is a starting point. He said he was looking forward to working with his state representatives, who have always been pro-education.

Sidney Central School Superintendent Bill Christensen said: “I am quite disappointed with the proposal.” His district is due to receive an increase of $396,000, or 3.15 percent, not including building aid. But necessary increases — payroll, insurance, and retirement costs — are expected to total almost $700,000 in 2014-15. With the talk of full-day pre-kindergarten, “we expected more,” he said, adding that pre-K alone will cost about $600,000.

If the gap elimination adjustment money were to be restored — a total of more than $600,000 — the situation would be different, he said. While the fiscal situation is about the same as last year at this time, this year’s shortfall could pose a problem, he sad, and the district will have to look at such things as borrowing or drawing from reserves if the situation doesn’t change.

The district has been economizing where it can, including trimming its staff through attrition, Christensen said.

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