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School budget votes delayed to at least June 1

$177 billion state budget in flux, G.C. district remains uncertain 

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This story was updated on April 9. 

School budget votes have been delayed until at least June 1 because of the coronavirus outbreak, by order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The votes were scheduled to take place on May 19. 

The state Legislature passed a $177 billion budget on April 2, but it is riddled with uncertainty because no one knows precisely how long the coronavirus crisis will last, or what form it will take in the near future. The governor has said modeling predicts the peak of cases in New York is expected within the next seven to 21 days, but the state could continue to see cases into August.  

Glen Cove City School District Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna said that school officials have seen the budget. It would mean a 1.04 million deficit for the district. She added that there may see cuts between the next 30 to 180 days. Cuts from the state “will further hurt us,” Rianna said.

The governor issued an executive order on March 30 that states: "Any school board, library board, or village election scheduled to take place in April or May of 2020 is hereby postponed until at least June 1, 2020 and subject to further directive as to the timing, location or manner of voting for such elections."

Last year, the district received just over $9 million in Foundation Aid funding, over 13 percent more than the expected amount of $7.8 million tabulated in the state’s school budget formula at the end of January 2019. Thanks in large part to the lobbying of Rianna and Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Northport, the district received 52 percent of its maximum potential Foundation Aid.

Cathy Gambino, the PTA vice president, said prior to school officials seeing the budget she had hoped to see the funding of more Chromebooks for learning. So far, she said, high school students have started to receive the Chromebooks, which is useful for students in a period of digital learning. 

“As always, you definitely want to see most of [the school budget] going towards the students and new ideas and new concepts for the students,” she said. “Hopefully eventually all the students [will have Chromebooks].” 

Whether the school budget vote will take place on June 1 remains to be seen. The coronavirus pandemic is fluid, and if new cases were to continue to arise, the vote could be delayed further, state officials said.

"The state budget was difficult," Cuomo said in his Friday news conference.

Pushing back the vote will also give state and local officials a clearer picture of New York's finances after the Covid-19 virus forced tens of thousands of businesses to close and sales tax collections to plummet. The governor had earlier predicted a $10 billion to $15 billion gap in the state budget, which is unprecedented. 

Rianna also wanted to remind the community to continue supporting each other. “People have gone above and beyond,” said Rianna. “Our staff has been amazing and our community has been very supportive as it realizes that we are facing something we have never faced before. But we are coming together and that’s just amazing and very helpful as we move forward.” 

Mike Conn contributed to this story.