With the recently adopted state budget, much has been said and reported regarding the amount of state school aid "restored" to school districts across the state. However a critical error was repeated in the media when those restoration amounts were calculated to include federal stimulus* dollars awarded last year. The actual amounts restored by the state legislature, over and above the amount originally proposed in Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget, were modest in comparison.
As an example, one media report indicated that the Jamestown Public Schools were scheduled to receive $1,368,361 in New York school aid restorations. In fact, the district is scheduled to receive $383,558.
Below please find the accurate listing of school aid amounts actually restored to each of our consortium school districts through the recent enactment of our state budget. While we are grateful for these restorations, we remain extremely concerned about the larger context of substantive and continuing school aid reductions in our state.
So the public can appreciate that context, we list here the accurate restoration amounts established in the new state budget along side the net school aid eliminations, also established in that same budget.
Jamestown+ $383,558- $4,462,396
Bemus Point+ $89,166- $773,951
Cassadaga Valley+ $88,230- $1,285,560
Falconer+ $66,042- $1,916,514
Frewsburg+ $36,001- $1,518,064
Southwestern+ $225,415- $1,916,534
In very large part, the reductions in state support for our public schools has driven the consequential upward pressure on local property taxes and has pushed many upstate districts to consider substantial program and personnel reductions. The latter is certainly true in all our school districts.
As you can imagine, when the inflated restoration amounts were reported we had significant interest in correcting the false impressions made. All of us received immediate inquiries from Board of Education members, from parents, and from employees, all anxious to understand this substantial influx of "restored" revenues.
Again, we are grateful for the restorations made. However, the larger context of school funding reductions leaves us all worried for the long-term financial viability of public education in our state.
* Last year, the federal government awarded "Education Jobs Fund" monies to school districts across the nation. These "stimulus" awards were intended to retain or add education jobs during the 2010-11 school year and/or the 2011-12 school year. Knowing these difficult financial days were coming, most districts chose to hold their full awards for use in the 2011-12 school year. School districts have accounted for the receipt of these federal revenues since the beginning of their budget building processes. They were never "restored" through our state's budget process.
The superintendents of the schools that are members of Chautauqua County School Consortium are Daniel E. Kathman of Jamestown City School District, Albert D'Attilio of Bemus Point Central Schools, John Brown of Cassadaga Valley Central Schools, Stephen Penhollow of Falconer Central Schools, Stephen Vanstrom of Frewsburg Central Schools and Daniel George of Southwestern Central Schools.