Financial health of state impacts the schools

As you are aware, New York State continues to experience a significant financial crisis. As of now, according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the state's current deficit is nearly $1 billion. At the same time, it is projected that New York State faces a $9 billion shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2011.

New York State's financial health has a major effect on state aid assistance to schools. A very harsh indicator of this was our loss of $7.4 million in State Aid for the 2010-2011 school year which has contributed to the reduction of almost 100 positions, increased class sizes, and reduced services at all levels, both instructional and non-instructional. And in September of this year, just two months after the beginning of our fiscal year, due to its own pressing needs, the state unexpectedly reduced our promised aid by another $558,042. Also, North Syracuse may lose an additional $776,000 in Medicaid Aid for 2009-2010.

To complicate the situation, our financial prospects for the next fiscal year are not encouraging. At the present time, due primarily to loss of federal stimulus funding, significant rate increases in retirement contributions, and normal budget growth, I anticipate an $11.7 million shortfall for the 2011-2012 school year. This does not include any potential loss of state aid which will likely occur, given New York's anticipated $9 billion shortfall for next year.

Consequently, last month, I found it necessary to freeze all expenditures which are not essential to instruction, transportation, and safety. All open staff vacancies will be carefully evaluated before any replacement action is taken.

In my letter to staff, I reminded them that the importance of our mission has not changed. What has changed is the need to carry out our mission in a more effective and efficient manner. To its credit, our staff continues to demonstrate its commitment to our mission - the education of our students - at all times. The assistance and support of the North Syracuse Central School District community is highly valued during this difficult period.

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