According to the newly released 2013-14 school aid projections, school districts in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties will see a total increase of $15.7 million over the 2012-13 school year's formula aid.
This comes on the heels of a final budget, passed by the Senate and by the Assembly late Thursday, which will raise the state's education funding by $386 million more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal of $550 million.
With a boost of nearly $1 billion in school aid, a good portion of the increase is due to Gap Elimination Adjustment restorations. According to State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, although the Senate was unsuccessful in its attempts to do away with the GEA, this is still a step in the right direction.
"Overall, it's a very positive state budget for education," said Young. "Most of the school aid increase is a nearly $200 million additional restoration of the (GEA), which was championed by the Senate, and the top priority identified by my school boards, superintendents and teachers. The Senate pushed very hard to totally eliminate the GEA, but our proposal was rejected by the governor and Assembly Speaker (Sheldon Silver)."
Young also announced that her 57th state Senate district-which includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and the bottom half of Livingston counties-will be receiving an overall increase of $19 million this year.
"The Senate fought hard to increase school aid to invest in our children, and give relief to the taxpayers," she said. "Funding for schools in my district will total $554,616,011, a large share of the statewide allocation of $21.1 billion.
As reflected by their budget proposals earlier this month, members of the New York state Senate and Assembly were able to accomplish this school aid increase by reallocating the $203 million set aside for the state's fiscal stabilization fund toward reducing the GEA and increasing foundation aid. Additionally, the legislature also added an extra $185 million in foundation aid.
These new projections will mean a $6,427,786 increase for Cattaraugus County districts, and a $9,398,037 increase for Chautauqua County districts. Neither of these figures factor in building aid for individual districts.
The changes in Cattaraugus County include increases of $177,241 for Ellicottville, $661,752 for Cattaraugus-Little Valley, $797,849 for Randolph and $575,387 for Salamanca.
Changes in Chautauqua County include increases of: $615,614 for Southwestern; $259,710 for Frewsburg; $523,583 for Cassadaga Valley; $203,853 for Chautauqua Lake; $518,551 for Pine Valley; $284,686 for Clymer; $623,594 for Dunkirk; $171,627 for Bemus Point; $520,598 for Falconer; $541,687 for Silver Creek; $337,668 for Forestville; $335,332 for Panama; $1,942,484 for Jamestown; $769,694 for Fredonia; $529,129 for Brocton; $432,025 for Ripley; $288,410 for Sherman; and $499,792 for Westfield.
According to Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, this budget is an indication that the state is beginning to see the reality of its districts' financial situations.
"Our preliminary analysis shows that this budget begins to recognize school districts' actual fiscal circumstances, and their communities' ability to pay," he said. "It provides increases in every aid category while giving districts flexibility, and restores a large portion of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. School boards now have the state aid numbers they need to finalize their own spending plans in a timely, predictable manner. Now it's up to boards to complete their local school district budgets for presentation before voters on May 21."
FACT BOX: State Aid
2012-13 Subtotals (without building aid):
Cattaraugus County: $136,725,788
Cattaraugus-Little Valley: $12,030,172
Chautauqua County: $175,420,249
Cassadaga Valley: $12,229,756
Chautauqua Lake: $4,518,145
Pine Valley: $8,198,594
Bemus Point: $3,351,397
Silver Creek: $10,306,165
2013-14 Subtotals (without building aid) State Aid Projections
Cattaraugus County: $143,028,667
Cattaraugus-Little Valley: $12,691,924
Chautauqua County: $184,818,286
Cassadaga Valley: $12,753,339
Chautauqua Lake: $4,721,998
Pine Valley: $8,717,145
Bemus Point: $3,523,024
Silver Creek: $10,847,852