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Schools need funds — not gap tricks

February 10, 2013
The Leader Herald

Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows. Knows that N.Y. is rising. Knows that we need more school time. But is providing less money to schools.

It is called gap funding. The Gap Elimination Adjustment law was first introduced for the 2010-11 fiscal year by then-Gov. David Paterson as a way to help close New York's then-$10 billion budget deficit. Under the legislation, a portion of the funding shortfall at the state level is divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid. (Special thanks to the Guilderland School District for providing such a savvy explanation.)

This was to be a one-time event.

"There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program." Although that statement is credited to Ronald Reagan or Milton Friedmann, it was originally said by Utah Sen. Wallace F. Bennett in 1964.

That describes the current sleight of hand accounting by the Cuomo administration. Or as the Russians said it, "When the Czar gives an egg he takes a hen." By repeating this accounting trick, the state is destroying the slim nonprofit margin on which school districts operate.

With a new extra billion dollars in federal aid, Cuomo now wants to lengthen school time.

Let's follow that money (sage advice from the Watergate Era). Come on, fourth estate, do your job!

Will that extra aid ever really be seen in school districts? Maybe. If there is a longer school year, who will pay for all the new busing costs? Additional costs for teachers, custodial, administration to keep the school open? How about the cost of air conditioning or simple electrical costs?

The districts can always increase taxes. Oh wait, there is a cap on that now. Remember, the school tax is one of the few taxes the "99 percent" can actually directly vote for or against.

How will districts deal with increased costs and decreased revenues? There seems to be a cap on everything these days but the growth of state power over everything.

Most school districts are up in arms across the state. From Long Island to the North Country, from Red Hook to Fredonia, it's simple: give the districts what is due to them and stop gap funding trickery.

RICHARD WARD

Grant writer,

Mayfield Central School District

 
 

 

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