With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal of a 20 percent cut in Foundation Aid and potential funding from the federal government that would supplement that loss, Glen Cove City School District’s budget remains in the balance, as officials prepare for the budget vote now set for June 9.
“We were told that we were getting $9,003,827 in foundation aid and a 20 percent cut would mean an additional cut of $1,800,765,” said Dr. Maria Rianna, Glen Cove City School District’s superintendent, at the digital May 6 Board of Education meeting. “Now, at this point of time, I was asked to listen in on a conference call with the United States Department of Education. Federal monies are supposed to come into New York, of which the governor would have to use 90 percent of them for schools.”
Rianna explained that if this were to happen, the school district would not receive as big of a cut as 20 percent. But at this, school officials do not know what amount of money they will lose in Foundation Aid funding. So, to plan for different scenarios the district may face, Victoria Galante, the assistant superintendent for business, presented four budget cut scenarios; a 20 percent loss in Foundation Aid, a 15 percent loss in Foundation Aid, a 10 percent loss in Foundation Aid and a 5 percent loss in Foundation aid.
“At this point in time, these are only suggestions and we will have time to look at what exactly is being given to us by the governor and then we will be able to make a more informed decision,” Rianna said. “But we had to put something in place that drafted the conversation so that when we get this final information from the state, we will be prepared.”
If 10 percent of the foundation aid was cut, the district could lose some positions that were budgeted to be filled and some supply orders. In the worst case scenario — a 20 percent cut — the district would consider cutting band and orchestra for fourth graders, among other losses. It’s important to note that not all positions in consideration for cuts have been filled. However, Rianna said, depending on enrollment and cuts in foundation aid, some faculty and staff members could lose their jobs.
As of press time, no staff or faculty members have been laid off.
“I’m going to emphasize that I do not want to cut the band and orchestra for fourth grade,” Rianna said. “We only touch that in the worse case scenario. And we may have additional items that come to mind, additional savings. I’m personally hoping that we don’t get that 20 percent reduction and that will allow us to continue to move in the direction that we moved in the last seven years.”
Maria Durante, the vice-president of Gribbin Elementary School PTA, has a child in the third grade. She said she would hope that the fourth grade orchestra and band remained untouched, along with state aid previously pledged to the district.
A zero percent cut would be the best case scenario because the district would go back to its original budget. “Speaking to 13 other districts today for two hours, we don’t feel that it would be a 20 percent cut for everyone of a 5 percent cut across the board,” Galante said. “[Cuomo] really has to look at the high need districts, versus other districts that are not in high-need. If they put a 20 percent cut in a district like Brentwood, they’re talking about $20 million dollars they would have to find in their budget. That’s not even substantial for them, just the way $1 million for us is a big cut. Remember, I already cut $1 million out.”
School officials had to already make reductions in the budget earlier this year when more appropriations then revenue caused a $1,203,989 budget gap. It was earlier in the year that the district announced a tax levy limit, or a tax cap, of 2.38 percent, pending vote.
But because the district wouldn’t have the usual opportunities to present the budget to the public, it was decided to bring the tax levy limit back down to 2 percent. “What I did was lower my transfer to capital by the amount that would bring us down to just a 2 percent levy,” Galante said. “The community will understand it better and agree with it better. We are not the only district lowering our levy. A lot of districts are going to be lowering their levy because of the situation that we’re in.”
The district will be holding a budget hearing after the approval and at this point, this district is yet to hear from the state. The Board Trustee election will be held on the same day as the budget vote. The Bond Referendum has been suspended until further notice.