Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 2, 2014

Falls school officials unhappy with Cuomo budget numbers

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — While the GEA still exists, another issue Niagara Falls has is the frozen level of foundation aid, the state’s general money and the highest single form of payment to any school districts. Niagara Falls, with a $140 million budget, receives $70.5 million in foundation aid, though it hasn’t been increased in more than four years despite increasing costs of education.

With this income stagnant and all other state aid arriving in the form of reimbursements for money the district already spent, officials asked residents this past May to shoulder the burden of a tax levy increase for the first time in 20 years.

In addition to a continued freeze of foundation aid, the governor’s proposal also provides an excess of reimbursements as part of its state aid package, according to Administrator for School Business Services Timothy Hyland. He said more than $500 million of the governor’s proposed $800 million increase in aid to districts is made through reimbursement payments, whether for universal pre-kindergarten or items like transportation.

Combined with the frozen foundation aid, Hyland said all of the increases were a bit upsetting to him.

“We were very shocked,” Hyland said. “We’d heard there was a (state) surplus this year.”

Cuomo’s proposal is only the first step in the budgeting process. The state legislature has until April 1 to pass a budget on time and is ultimately responsible for setting aid levels. Maziarz said last week interest has been shown in the senate to both eliminate the GEA and unfreeze foundation aid levels for districts in 2014-15.

Big red number $1.7M Amount of state aid increase for Falls district under Cuomo's proposed budget

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

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