Local schools to get more aid

Local school districts will receive an increase in education aid under the new 2014-15 state budget, but some officials say the budget fails to do enough for education.

The budget includes a $1.1 billion increase in education aid.

In the Gloversville Enlarged School District, state aid, minus building aid, will increase to $33 million, up 6.09 percent over 2013-14.

Gloversville Superintendent Michael Vanyo said his district is a high-need, low-wealth district. Vanyo said some districts with a wealthier tax base can invest more in their schools. He said schools that lack this wealth need more state aid.

“We can always use more, but my answer is anything we get, we are happy with,” Vanyo said. “Our program, our students, could use more.”

The Greater Johnstown School District will receive $17.3 million in state aid, not including building aid. The total is up 6.25 percent from the current school year.

“It is better than going the other way, but the state is not funding education the way it should,” DeLilli said.

In foundation aid, DeLilli said, his district only will get $119,000 more than the current year. DeLilli said more help is needed.

“Though it is an increase, and we are thankful for the increase, it is not at the funding level that it should be,” DeLilli said.

The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will receive $12.1 million, a 2.36 percent increase.

Broadalbin-Perth Central School Business Administrator Marco Zumbulo said the increase will be good for the district.

“In my opinion, it is a step in the right direction,” he said.

However, Zumbulo stressed the need to work to remove the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which he said hampers the district by taking back a portion of the aid the district receives.

Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said schools need more aid because many of them “are faced with the prospect of dramatic cuts in staff or programs.”

Butler said he wants the state to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

State Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Schenectady, said the increase in aid to schools “was a high priority for us.”

Common Core reform

The new state budget makes changes to the Common Core learning standards. For example, the reforms will keep English and math test scores off the transcripts of students in third through eighth grades through 2018.

DeLilli said the changes, while helpful, could have been avoided.

“Instead of trying to fix the issues that have popped up regarding Common Core and [Annual Professional Performance Review], it would have been better to more softly implement it,” DeLilli said.

Farley said some members of the Senate wanted to do away with Common Core.

“We wanted to, if you will, do away with it, halt it, but there is too much money involved,” Farley said.

Prekindergarten

The new state budget allocates $340 million for universal pre-K during each of the next two years. About $300 million will go to New York City and $40 million to the rest of the state.

“Certainly, I don’t think it is a fair division,” Butler said.

Farley said the money for pre-K should not be mandatory.

“I don’t believe that pre-K is necessary,” Farley said.

Bond act

The budget calls for a $2 billion bond act, pending approval by voters in November, that would allow borrowing to pay for classroom computers and technology, a pre-K classrooms.

“It is going to be the choice of the voters,” Farley said. “The possibility of it passing is very much in doubt.”

DeLilli said if the bond passes, it would help districts, but he said the money might be better used for infrastructure rather than new computers.