That’s Superintendent Michael Hynes’ response to word that Shelter Island will get $589,222 in state aid for the 2014-15 school year along with another $57,876 earmarked for technology and preschool classes.
One catch:Voters statewide must approve a $2 billion bond act on the ballot in November.
The more school aid funds coming to Shelter Island represents a 15.96 percent hike from what the district received for the current school year and will enable Dr. Hynes to recommend additions to the budget at tonight’s workshop that he hadn’t previously anticipated.
Among them will be more English as a second language education to accommodate the growing Latino population on Shelter Island. He’ll also recommend hiring a dean of students who will be charged with multiple responsibilities, including a focus on physical education improvements, transportation and some human resources work. He expects to be able to post that position by next week, he said during a Monday morning interview.
“It’s really significant,” Dr. Hynes said about the added state aid. He’s also pleased that the New York State Legislature agreed to reduce the “Gap Elimination Adjustment” by $602 million. That has been enacted in 2008-09 to close a state budget deficit. But this year, Shelter Island joined a number of other districts in asking for its repeal now that the state’s finances are on a more even keel.
If it takes three years to totally remove the GEA, that will be a victory, Dr. Hynes said.
He had praise for Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) who succeeded in ensuring Eastern Long Island is finally getting its fair share of this year’s school aid. In past years, the state lawmakers, viewing the East End as land rich, have slotted other districts for more aid. Educators here have long argued that while real estate prices may be elevated in the area, wages aren’t. And with a higher cost of living here, the need for more state aid has been critical, Dr. Hynes said.
In raising Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request for a 3.9 percent increase in school aid to 5.3 percent, the legislature, in a budget deal reached this week, has assured that Suffolk County has “gotten its fair share of this year’s school aid increase,” Mr. Thiele said.
“The focus on improving quality education is a goal I fully support,” Mr. Thiele said in a press release. “This state aid proposal accomplishes that goal for Long Island and New York State,” he said.
Tonight’s budget workshop in the board room begins at 6:30 p.m.