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State aid for schools increases, GEA remains in Governor's budget proposal

On January 21, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed his executive budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year that would increase education aid by $807 million or 3.8 percent for New York Schools. The increase includes funding that the governor has earmarked for the launch of several new education initiatives.

Under the Governor’s proposal, the projected state aid for the Monticello Central School District is approximately $29,874,901 – an increase of $1,121,834 or 3.84 percent over the district’s current budget revenues for state aid. However, Monticello will still see a $1,908,142 loss in aid because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

GEA was established in 2010 to eliminate the state’s large budget deficit by taking away aid from school districts, therefore placing an even bigger burden on taxpayers. GEA is money that is deducted from the aid originally promised to the district. Since its initiation in 2010, the Monticello Central School District has lost approximately $12 million in school aid through 2014-15. Despite New York’s anticipated surplus, the governor’s proposal calls for only a partial restoration ($323 million) of funds withheld from districts through the GEA.

“While we appreciate that the Governor is looking to increase state aid, the fact is that it is still not enough to make up for the money taken away from our district in recent years,” said Monticello Superintendent Daniel A. Teplesky. “The bottom line is that the way funding is formulated for New York schools is simply not fair. Major changes need to be made before we can actually say that our schools are getting the funding we need to provide our students the breadth and depth of programming they deserve,” commented Superintendent Teplesky.

One of the new initiatives highlighted by the governor is the phase-in of universal, full-day pre-kindergarten statewide. High-quality early education is one of the best investments to be made in education, but many schools do not have the space, staffing or equipment for such a program, acknowledged the governor. He proposed spending $1.5 billion over five years to phase in the program.

Gov. Cuomo also proposed a $2 billion bond for a Smart Schools initiative to go before voters in November. If approved, the bond would give schools money for infrastructure improvements related to high-speed broadband access and classroom technology (e.g., smartboards, tablets). Schools could also use the funds to construct new pre-kindergarten classrooms, if the funds allow or if they prefer. The state would distribute the funds to schools based on the existing state aid formula.

Other new education initiatives in his proposal include:
• Investing $720 million over a five-year period in afterschool programs. Districts would have to submit plans to the State Education Department for approval.
• An $8 million SUNY/CUNY full-scholarship program for the top 10 percent of high school graduates. Eligible graduates must pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or math and work in New York State for five years following graduation from college.
• A $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund that would allow teachers rated as “highly effective” to be eligible to receive rewards of up to $20,000 annually.
• Officially eliminating standardized tests for students in grades K-2. Currently there are no state assessments in those grades.

The Executive Budget also proposes a two-year property tax freeze for homeowners residing in school districts that meet certain conditions. During the first year of the freeze, a district would have to pass a budget with a levy that stays within its property tax levy cap. During the second year, in addition to again staying within its cap, a district would have to agree to and implement a state-approved plan for shared services and consolidation.

Last year, 96 percent of school districts, including Monticello Central School District, were able to stay within their property tax levy caps largely through reductions to programs, services and staff.

Visit for more details on the governor’s budget.