The Valley Stream Central High School District was the big winner among the four local districts when the state budget was finalized late last week, however the additional state aid still fails to close a $2.65 million budget gap.
The district will be getting $17.76 million in aid next year, a $1.2 million increase over the current year and $442,000 more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget. That extra money could help restore some programs that are set to be eliminated next year in the budget adopted by the Board of Education on March 12. The board was expected to discuss use of the additional state aid at its meeting on Tuesday night, after the Herald went to press.
“Overall I think our legislators came through for us,” Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich said. “It doesn’t resolve our budget deficit. We still have some choices to make.”
Heidenreich explained that the decisions on putting items back into the budget are not easy. Among the cuts are 15 teachers, more than a dozen support positions, three sports teams and changes to transportation for private school students. Heidenreich said while much public outcry has been about the latter two, it’s education that should be the priority so the district can maintain its strong graduation rate.
With the additional money, Heidenreich said district officials also must take into account the likely loss of federal funds from sequestration and possible new medical insurance costs from the Affordable Healthcare Act. “Do you just spend it all and hope for the best,” he said, “or do you act conservatively?”
All three elementary districts will also see additional state aid next year. The Legislative budget boosts financial support for Districts 13, 24 and 30.
District 13 is slated to receive $9.2 million next year, roughly a half-million dollar increase over the current year and about $110,000 more than what was proposed in the governor’s budget.
Percentage wise, District 24 will see the largest increase. Valley Stream’s smallest elementary district will be getting $5.45 million next year. That is a $656,000 increase, of 13.67 percent, over the current year.
District 30 will be getting about $5.6 million next year, $223,000 more than this year — twice the increase the governor proposed.
The three elementary school boards will be meeting later this month to discuss how to use the additional state aid.