Reduction In AIM Funding Should Bring Merger Talks To Table

There is one final reason why Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reduction in AIM funding to towns and villages makes little logical sense — he is treating schools and municipalities completely differently despite the immense differences in the amounts of money being spent.

Schools can count on a state aid increase every year, though many argue that schools still don’t get enough aid despite the increases. Towns and villages, despite being arms of the state and falling under similar state direction, have never been able to count on those increases every year and now find themselves seeing their state aid either cut or eliminated altogether.

Previous merger studies have shown that there are cost savings to be had within the education system if there is the political will and a will from the voters to merge school districts. We have made the case in the psat regarding schools that school mergers are a way the state could redistribute aid to urban, higher needs districts that desparately need the type of resources that aren’t available from the state. Having fewer school districts could very well mean savings and a better education.

Even if the aid cut proposed by the governor is restored by the state Legislature, we have a feeling the cut will come back in next year’s budget proposal. Towns and villages had better prepare for a future with fewer resources from the state — and that preparation should perhaps include a future without some towns and villages. If a few thousand dollars cut in state aid is enough for towns and villages to cry poverty, perhaps their finances would improve with a merger or dissolution.