Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 08 February 2013 00:00
The Levittown and Island Trees schools will be getting more in state aid this year as a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed aid package. Under Cuomo’s plan, the Levittown School District would see it’s 2012-13 state aid rise from $43,742,058, to a proposed $44,975,145, a 0.65 percent increase or $1,233,087.
Levittown Superintendent of Schools, Dr. James Grossane explained that Gov. Cuomo’s proposed executive budget is a “preliminary budget” and that the district is currently examining the projection.
“We are still examining the budget numbers, but do believe we are on the right track,” Dr. Grossane stated. “How this proposed budget will affect the Levittown School District is still being analyzed.”
Similarly, under the proposed budget, the Island Trees School District would see its 2012-13 state aid rise from $12,199,190, to a proposed $12,605,768, a 0.70 percent increase or $406,578.
“Admittedly, I have grave concerns that the school district aid would be flat this year; I had heard from some state official that the tax receipts were lower than anticipated and the costs from Superstorm Sandy would negatively impact the state budget,” said Dr. Charles Murphy, superintendent of the Island Trees School District.
He said despite the 3 percent increase, it was more than the district had anticipated. Murphy told the Levittown Tribune that the school district’s mandated contribution to the pension system was far greater than the increase to state aid. “In fact, last year the district’s obligation was 11.84 percent of total salaries and it has not increased to over 16 percent of total salaries; this is the most significant issue that we’ll need to deal with during our budgetary process.”
Local officials weighed in on the varying degrees of aid losses and gains throughout Long Island. Assemblyman David McDonough believes children continue to be imperiled by an unfair system of state education aid that saps resources out of the classroom and raises taxes on hard-working New Yorkers.
“The governor’s executive budget includes increased state aid, and it is my sincere hope that in the coming weeks and months we can work together to deliver Long Island’s fair share to local classrooms and communities,” McDonough said.
Senator Kemp Hannon explained how some of the surrounding school districts such as East Meadow, Farmingdale, Plainview, and Massapequa would not benefit from the proposed budget. “When the governor announces a 4 percent hike in school aid, most people feel that will be distributed equitably; in contrast to that, we have some people with absolute losses or who are staying the same.”
Hannon gave the example of Massapequa, whose district went from getting $2 million in high tax aid to getting $610,000 in high tax aid, a $1.4 million loss.
“You’d expect if you talk about a 4 percent increase in school aid, that everybody would be getting a 4 percent increase in school aid and it didn’t work out that way; we have worked to add a thing called high tax aid increase a few years ago,” said Hannon. “They took the money in high tax aid, took a lot of it out, redistributed it, and it’s the redistribution that causes the problem because once some district reads that they’re getting so much money, you can’t take it away, even though in some essence it was other people’s money.”
The governor’s budget must be ratified by April 1.