Skaneateles CSD gets more state aid, is able to balance budget

The Skaneateles School District will not need to make cuts or raise taxes above the state cap to balance the 2014-15 operating budget.

District officials discussed the budget at an April 1 school board work session, one day after the state legislature voted to adopt a budget that increased funding to many districts throughout the state, including Skaneateles.

The total proposed budget is $30,194,522, a 0.45 increase over the previous year. Of that, about $6.36 million will come from New York state, $23,269,328 will come from property taxes with the rest coming from other revenue sources and reserve funds.

Under the previous state aid projections, the district’s budget was estimated to be $223,918 short. With the new state aid (a $133,716 increase) and other updated revenue projections, that figure dropped to $121,262, which the district can cover with unexpended fund balance from this year’s budget and other reserve money, Business Manager Doug Tomandl said.

For months, education advocates across the state had been encouraging residents to contact their legislators to campaign for restoration of funds taken away from schools under the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment policy (GEA). The Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES and the New York State School Board Association held a forum in Auburn in February where residents learned that the GEA had taken away about $4 million from Skaneateles over the past four years.

The GEA will still subtract $850,167 from Skaneateles state aid for the 2014-15 budget, though That figure is partially offset by a GEA restoration of $120,128, which nets a $730,039 subtraction from the aid previously promised by state law.

“To be clear, it isn’t that they gave us more money, they just took away less money,” Board President Kathryn Carlson said on the state aid adjustments.

In addition to the GEA the district has also been receiving less state aid due to declining enrollment, since the number of students in the district factors into the aid formula.

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