Legislators’ efforts lead to aid increase; proposed tax levy decrease for MCSD

a group of leads are standing outside
KLR Principal Christopher Palmer, Senator Mike Martucci, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Board of Education President Lori Orestano-James and KLR Assistant Principal Doug Murphy

The Monticello Central School District is slated to receive an unprecedented 8.4% increase in state aid for the 2021–22 fiscal year — a total of $40.4 million. The increase is largely attributed to the New York State’s pledge to fully fund the foundation aid formula over a three-year period in response to the lobbying of education advocates, including Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Senator Mike Martucci. On Friday, May 7, the Monticello Central School District hosted a press conference to formally recognize the efforts of these two legislators.

Senator Mike Martucci speaks during the conference.

“The funding of the foundation aid has been a long time coming,” Senator Martucci said. “We should have been standing here long ago celebrating measurable progress, so it’s great to be here today to say we finally got it done. It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to do that but we’re certainly here proud to celebrate the fact that the school has the resources it needs to balance two important priorities – taking care of the tax payers in the community, and taking care of our kids. With all of the amazing work things our teachers are doing this year both online and in the classroom, the least we could do as a state is to come to the table with that support.”

Forty four percent of the district’s proposed 2021-22 budget will be accounted for by state aid – a considerable increase from recent years. In comparison, state aid accounted for 39% of the MCSD’s budget in 2015.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans speaks.

“While our Board of Education and administration always work diligently to produce a responsible budget in terms of expenditures, this year’s state aid increases – increases that would not have been possible without Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Senator Mike Martucci’s advocacy – will allow us to continue thoughtful improvements in our programs, facilities, and operations, while minimizing the impact on the local taxpayer,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans said.

This year’s infusion of state aid enabled the district to produce a proposed budget that reduces the tax levy by 2.06%, while maintaining all existing programs and adding a small number of important staff positions.

Assemblywoman Gunther, whose children attended district schools, spoke of the positive experiences her children had as students.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther speaks.

“This year was one where there was a greater need and greater difficulties, and we are so happy that you were able to receive these funds to help provide all children education that will prepare them for a better life,” Gunther said. “As generations of my family were teachers, I know how important you all are to the lives of all children and I thank the MCSD for helping me raise three children who turned out quite well.”

“On behalf of our district, our community, and most importantly, our students, we are incredibly grateful to Assemblywoman Gunther and Senator Martucci for their support in securing this year’s increase in aid,” Dr. Evans said. “We urge their continued advocacy on behalf of education to ensure that the state fulfils its commitment to fully fund the foundation aid formula. We are counting on that commitment to be able to offer our taxpayers relief, while continuing to provide the many programs that promote student success in the years to come. We look forward to their continued partnership as we work to build a world-class community of schools and become a district of choice.”

Monticello residents will vote on the proposed 2021-22 school budget from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May 18, 2021 at all district-owned polling locations. More information about the proposed budget is available on the district’s budget webpage.