May 21 matters: More tax cap pain

It is now seven weeks before most schools across the state vote on school budgets.

Compared to last year, when a dozen school districts had a negative tax cap, (Here’s a link to remind you about last year’s situation) the good news is only a handful of districts face that situation this year. Listed alphabetically, they are:

  • Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Central School District -1.31%
  • Keene School District -1.53%
  • Mexico School District -40.48%
  • Sherman School District -4.24%
  • South Orangetown School District -0.19%

Districts across the state are currently finalizing their budgets. Remember they have until April 26 to complete their work. Many districts were helped by an overall education aid increase of $936 million, or a 4.7 percent increase. Lawmakers re-allocated $203 million in fiscal stabilization funds and added $184 million above what the executive budget proposed. High tax aid of $69 million was restored. The amount schools have to pay toward the state deficit was decreased a bit (known as Gap Elimination Aid) and pension smoothing will help those districts that decide to participate. There will be a two-year moratorium on any Building Aid interest rate recalculations. This could have cost districts $70 million over the next two years but now there will be no reduction this year or next.

There are not as many updates from schools as you might think because, with spring break in many districts, there aren’t as many school board meetings. Here’s a good one, from the Watertown Daily Times about the Morristown schools restoring programs. Here is a bad one about how, even with state aid increase, the Maine-Endwell school still faces cuts, as reported by WBNG-TV. And then, the ugly: a link from the Star-Gazette reporting that the Elmira city schools are looking to cut 14 elementary teachers; increase class size from 23 to 26 students; cut 15 teachers from middle and high schools; eliminate elective French courses; and cut 18 custodians.

Here’s one link how pension smoothing could help the Glens Falls school district keep programs and positions.

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