January 23 2013
still not receiving "fair share"
Supt. Spring makes
Gov. Cuomo's Budget
Proposal Increases SCSD School Aid by $3m
Additional aid helps bridge budget gap but not enough
..... not even close
Andrew M. Cuomo released his proposed New York State Budget on
Tuesday, January 22, including proposed aid to school districts
for 2013-2014. The proposed spending plan includes a 4%
increase in school aid for the Schenectady City School
District. As such, Schenectady would be set to receive about $3
million more in aid, reducing the 2013-2014 budget gap from $9
million to about $6 million. While the increase will move
Schenectady a few steps toward closing the gap, the district
superintendent says it’s not enough and insists that Schenectady
is still not receiving a fair share of aid.
Superintendent Larry Spring said that while
he appreciates the additional aid, significant issues remain in
effect regarding the distribution of State Aid and points to how
far Schenectady still sits from the median level of funding
compared to many other districts across the state. Spring said
he will continue his efforts advocating for a “radical
adjustment in aid for Schenectady.”
aid is the primary source of revenue for the Schenectady City
School District. Law determines what amount of funding a
district should receive in order to provide a “sound basic
education.” Based on that determination, Schenectady should be
receiving about $135 million. The amount Schenectady actually
received for this school year is about $73 million, a difference
of $62 million, and is just 54% of the total aid.
New York State, like most places, is
struggling in a difficult fiscal climate. Spring acknowledges
that we all must make sacrifices and said he understands why
districts are not all getting their full funding amounts. But
part of the problem is that some districts are getting their
full share and some even more than they should. The
superintendent said there is a serious problem with the way the
funds are being distributed.
Some of the poorest and neediest school
districts in New York State, including Schenectady, are not
getting even close to the state median level of funding, which
is 82%. Meanwhile, many districts, including many wealthier
districts, are receiving much higher percentages of their full
funding amount. Some receive
100% or more. “There
is something very wrong with this,” said Spring. “It is not
fair to our students, families or the Schenectady taxpayers."
Schenectady has made significant cuts, to
the bone, over the last couple of years. Dramatic changes
in operations, closing a school and other cuts were needed to
close a $9 million and subsequent $7.5 million budget gap
over the last two years. Schenectady tax payers have made
up the difference through property taxes.”
has been sharing the statewide school data and pointing to the
inequities that sit within the state aid picture. While digging
into the data and completing deeper analysis, the superintendent
uncovered another significant equity issue. According to the
numbers, it’s not just poor districts that are being
shortchanged, but districts with a high concentration of
minority students are also receiving lower levels of funding. [Supt.
Spring's Presentation to the Board of Education
Districts that are predominantly non-white
comprise 32.4% of all the districts funded between 50-59%.
These districts represent 8.14% of all the districts in the
state. Not only is Schenectady poor with a
Combined Wealth Ratio (CWR)
that sits well below the average (0.386), the district is
comprised of a population in which the “minority is the
Spring has been bringing
these serious inequities to the attention of the Schenectady
community, as well as Governor Cuomo and other state
legislators, calling for change and equity. While the
inequities associated with race may have not been an intended
outcome, Spring says, “they are there and it is up to our
elected officials to fix it.”
In regard to State Aid dollars, Spring
emphasized that he is not asking New York State to increase the
total state aid available. “I am asking for close review of the
issues at hand and to make changes that will make state aid
distribution fair,” said Spring.
He has even proposed an idea that could
make the distribution more equitable without additional monies.
He points to the $126 million that is being over paid to
districts (districts receiving 100% or more of their funding).
“Let’s take that money and bring the 22 lowest funding districts
to the 82% median funding level,” said Spring.
If Schenectady was receiving 82% of their
funding, the district would receive an additional $37.9
million. “Our budget conversations would be much different if
we were getting just the median level of funding,” said Spring.
Spring has contacted the Governor and state
legislators to share his concerns and request immediate action.
“They have the power to make adjustments to this budget proposal
and bring us to where we need to be,” said Spring. He said he
has a meeting with members of Governor Cuomo's staff next week.
The superintendent is also asking
Schenectady families, employees and community residents to take
action. Please write to our legislators
and press them to “do the right thing.” Help the Schenectady
City School District and residents of Schenectady get our "Fair