Thursday, 27 March 2014 10:18
On April 1, Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2014-15 budget will be voted on by the state legislature. This week’s “Question of the Week” explains exactly what losses have occurred, what future losses the school district will experience, and where you can find additional information about state aid.
A complete listing of the questions and answers to date is posted on the district website: http://www.gardencity.k12.ny.us, under “Common Core FAQs.”
Q: How will the governor’s proposed budget impact the school district?
A: The governor’s proposed budget further decreases state aid to Garden City Public Schools by $14,680 for the 2014-15 school year. Since 2008, state aid to the school district has decreased by 13.5 percent. These decreases have taken place at the same time the district has experienced an unprecedented escalation in mandated costs and programs beyond the school district’s control, such as the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), the new standards’ attendant state testing, and APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review).
Further, significant state aid has been diverted back to the state through the GEA – the Gap Elimination Adjustment – a reduction included in the Governor’s 2014-15 proposed budget.
In an effort to close budget gaps at the state level since it was enacted in the 2009-2010 year, the GEA has reduced aid to Garden City by over $5 million, with a $3,141,513 reduction in just the past three years. This loss in aid to Garden City since GEA began equates to over 50 teachers’ salaries and benefits. Although some restoration of the GEA has taken place, Long Island has seen far less restoration (6.8 percent) than the rest of New York State (10.3 percent).
Additionally, the constraints of the tax levy cap have limited a community’s ability to make its own decisions about how best to support its schools. This year’s proposed school district budget stays with the “2 percent tax levy limit,” a figure that is adjusted downward when the cost of living increase is less than 2%. This year’s cost-of-living adjustment was 1.46 percent (although the cost-of-living is higher on Long Island than upstate, no adjustment in the tax levy limit is allowed for regional variations). So, while last year’s tax levy limit was 3.91 percent, this year the district must stay with 1.58 percent to comply with a simple majority budget approval (50 percent + 1) on May 20, 2014. For the school district to elect to go above the 1.58 percent, a “supermajority,” or 60 percent + 1 of the vote must be achieved.
Q: Where can I learn more about this situation?
A: The board of education, the board’s legislative action committee, and the PTA have been communicating with local officials to express deep concern over the loss of local control over the district’s own programs, costs, and revenues.
Residents can learn about these efforts by reading the board of education’s letter regarding the Common Core to Commissioner of Education John King. The letter dated March 11, 2014 can be viewed on the district’s website: http://p1cdn1static.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_879883/File/PI%20Web/Letter%20to%20Commissioner%20King.pdf
Also available on the home page are all of the district’s 2014-2015 proposed budget presentations: http://www.gardencity.k12.ny.us/budget_information/
To add your voice to the concern over loss of local control and funding losses to Garden City as a result of reduced state aid and the GEA prior to the adoption of the state budget on April 1st, Garden City’s Parent Teacher Association has created a simple template residents can use to communicate with Governor Cuomo and local legislators. The template can be accessed at: https://www.votervoice.net/GARDENCITYPTA/campaigns/34931/respond
— Submitted by the Garden City Public School District