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Aid Up, Down For Local School Districts

One local school district saw an increase in state aid, while another lost money in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s preliminary budget released last week.

 

The Mineola School District saw a 5.87 increase, to $5,623,800 from 2013-14. The state awarded Mineola $5,311,988 last year.

 

Mineola gained increases in building aid but no increase in high tax aid. The district received $290,733 in high tax aid last year.

 

Negotiations are still ongoing, according to district reps. While Mineola is happy with an increase, there’s another side to the funds being sent their way.

 

“The increase that we show for this year is for reimbursements for monies we already spent,” said Dr. Michael Nagler, superintendent of the Mineola School District. “While it appears to be an increase, most of that money was already money due back to us.”

 

According to Nagler, the state didn’t give Mineola building aid for certain projects, like renovations at the Hampton Street School.

 

“If they did, we’d get more money in the budget this year,” he said. “You [ignore] the building aid for now to look at the bottom line. “Foundation aid hasn’t changed over the years,” which is the biggest allotment that includes money for BOCES, transportation, technology, among other areas.

 

“[State aid] comes in as a revenue,” Nagler stated. “The revenue offsets our overall budget. The pension went up a full percent, so in our budget that is roughly $800,000. If we got a $300,000 increase, we’re still in a hole.”

 

Mandated increases from the state do not give Mineola wiggle room, but the district is confident that it can budget accordingly, despite getting a near flat aid rate year-to-year. Under the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap, Mineola could put out a 1.5 percent tax increase for the next year as of now.

 

Nagler anticipates that the aid figure could change. “The Senate in general, was able to secure more money last year for the whole island,” he said. “I’m hopeful that will happen again.”

 

The East Williston School District saw a 5.65 decrease in aid this year. The district was awarded $2,511,754. They received a slight uptick of $39,948 in district aid last year. East Williston did not return calls for comment.