Niagara Gazette


January 21, 2014

While other districts see increases, Lew-Port stripped of state aid in Cuomo's budget


Niagara Gazette — The result of the latest projections, if upheld by the state legislature come March and April, could force Roser to make some difficult choices residents will not want to hear.

"I thought we'd done everything we could to drive ourselves to a new base," he said. "But now, I'm not so sure.

"We'll have to do what other districts have done and eliminate a lot of the programs, which we've spent years doing everything we can to protect."

Cuomo's projections not only increase state aid to every other district in Niagara County, there's also moderate money returned to districts through a reduction in GEA removed from the equation. Niagara-Wheatfield, itself a district facing significant fiscal stress, would receive more than $300,000 in GEA reduction under the current projections. Lew-Port, operating on a budget roughly two-thirds the amount as Niagara-Wheatfield, will only receive $46,000 in reduced GEA subtraction.

Overall, Lew-Port would see a 1.67 percent decrease in state aid. Wilson Central School District is closest in the county to zero receiving less than 0.1 percent more than this current year. Every other county district would see at least 1 percent more aid.

Attention will soon turn toward putting together a spending plan for 2014-15, which will use Cuomo's projections as a fairly accurate guide. The situation has school board President Michael Gentile questioning the role of the board of education, not just in Lew-Port but around the state.

"As a board of education, we're no longer in the business of building anything up anymore," he said. "Now all we're doing is looking at what cuts would do the least harm. We're trying to do the least harm."

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

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