Looming 17 percent cut in state school aid

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Proposed state education cuts could hit Shelter Island School hard.

If Governor Andrew Cuomo gets his requested budget, Shelter Island School would see a 17.1 percent cut in state aid for the 2013-14 school year.

The numbers just released show cuts to 23 Suffolk County school districts. The governor said Tuesday he was asking for an overall 3 percent hike in school aid statewide that would see education spending rise from $20.2 billion in the current school year to $20.8 billion next year.

If the governor’s proposal holds, the school would lose almost $15,000 from the $486,263 it got in state aid last year.

Superintendent Michael Hynes wasn’t available for comment on the proposed cut. He and the Board of Education begin budget planning for the 2013-14 school year in February.

Typically, the governor’s budget request gets tweaked by state legislators, but Suffolk Country taxpayers have had a long history of getting less than New York City and upstate schools because the area, based on property values, is considered wealthy.

The argument area educators have made to their legislators is that property values fail to reflect salaries, but their pleas have generally fallen on deaf ears in Albany.

A few years ago, North Fork superintendents, armed with letters from area residents, took their case to Senator Ken LaValle (R, C-Port Washington) and then Assemblyman Marc Alessi.

In accepting the letters, Mr. Alessi told the educators that he needed figures to carry to his colleagues in Albany, saying he couldn’t just arrive in the Assembly with the argument that East Enders were taxed too high and couldn’t afford cuts in school aid. He had some follow up meetings, but was unable to win his argument that a new state aid formula was needed that would better reflect the economy here and the reality that the communities send much more money to Albany than they get back in aid.