SALAMANCA - After years of not receiving any of the promised revenue share from casino gambling, the Salamanca School District now has a sum of money in reparations, receiving $5.7 million. Coupled with $1.6 million in federal aid received last month, the district looks to a solid financial future for taxpayers as well.
The funds, presented by city officials, represent the revenue the district should have received for 2009 through the first five months of 2013, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Barry Snyder, Seneca Nation of Indians president, standing in a room at the Salamanca High School, announced an agreement had been reached in the retroactive payment. Robert Breidenstein, district superintendent, said he and the members of his board of education have been awaiting the funds to come to the district since that time. The funds have been earmarked and the program is in place as to where $5.7 million will go.
"These funds will be utilized to jumpstart our 21st Century Planning Committee and help support professional development, training, implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards and academic support for struggling students," he said. "We are thrilled to have these funds in hand to accelerate our efforts to improve student outcomes."
The planning committee that will be charged with these funds is tasked to reform initiatives to improve learning, performance and accountability in the district, Breidenstein said.
Common Core, as mentioned by Breidenstein, was also presented by teachers within the various programs affected over the course of the meeting. Breidenstein said that, as the district moves closer to implementation of the Common Core standards, reservations still exist in the community and within the walls of the schools where it is to be taught.
"The Salamanca district also has serious reservations about the speed, intensity, financial support and roll out from the State Education Department to make this statewide goal a reality," he said. "No one doubts the value of improved curriculum and aligned learning standards, but it still feels as though the state has not been as supportive or as timely as it needed to be for such a huge undertaking."
Breidenstein also presented a preliminary presentation on the 2014-15 school year budget, saying he is still committed to a zero percent tax levy increase and still having the same staffing level at that point. The addition of $1.6 million in federal Impact Aid, announced in November, will help to make that goal a reality, he said.
"One of our three Board of Education goals is a commitment to making financial and facility decisions that are sustainable and designed to improve student achievement, lower the taxation burden our community has experienced and insuring the long-term financial well being of the district," he said.