The North Merrick School District has drawn up a plan for how it will cut school funding if the state budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in January takes effect. The plan would eliminate two classroom teachers and a part-time music teacher, reduce a full-time social worker to part-time, and cut the number of hours school psychologists work for the 2013-14 school year.
The governor’s budget usually undergoes negotiations and alterations in the state Legislature before it wins passage there, so it is possible the North Merrick School District will not actually realize these cuts in the next school year. North Merrick Superintendent David Feller said he is “fairly optimistic” that the district will receive an 11th-hour restoration of state funding that was cut in Cuomo’s budget, as the district did last year.
But as things currently stand, the North Merrick School District is facing a $761,000 budget gap between present spending levels and expected revenues for next school year. A substantial portion of the revenue gap is made up of a $102,000 cut in school aid and a $435,000 cut in “High Tax Aid” delineated in Cuomo’s budget. High Tax Aid is a category of funding that New York State supplies to school districts — many of them on Long Island — with higher property taxes, as determined by the state Division of the Budget.
Feller explained at a March 19 meeting of the district’s Lay Budget Committee that changes to Cuomo’s budget the state Senate proposed would completely restore the $435,000 in high tax aid that was cut from the district, whereas changes to Cuomo’s budget the state Assembly proposed would restore some, but not all, of these dollars.
The Legislature must pass a budget for the state by April 1, the first day of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Though the Legislature has missed this deadline in many past years, it delivered on-time budgets in the last two years. The Senate began voting on budget items last Sunday, but the Assembly was not scheduled to begin voting on the budget until March 28.