ESSEX COUNTY - As the State of New York issues further projections of its upcoming budget, schools across the state are getting a peek at the cuts in store for them.
Gov. David Paterson recently released a summary of projected state aid for schools in the 2009-2010 year as part of his proposed executive budget, a significant guideline for the legislature as it continues to work on finalizing next year's state budget.
Paterson's proposal includes an average 3.3 percent reduction in projected state aid for New York schools. This amounts to a total of $2.5 billion statewide.
That statewide trend is reflected in the state aid budgets for local schools. For some, the cuts will have more of an impact than on others.
Expressing a recognition of the necessity for across-the-board cuts at the state level, local school officials are hopeful that representatives in the state legislature will ultimately prevent the cuts from being so drastic, but all are planning ways to tighten their belts.
Were it not for state cuts, ELCS would have received a nearly $100,000 increase in state aid for the 2009-2010 school year. Under the assessment in Gov. Paterson's proposed budget, however, there will be an overall decrease of $89,476, a cut of two and two-thirds percent.
"It looks like its going to be a tough year going into this," said superintendent Gail Else. "I'm not sure what the final numbers will be, but I'm cautiously optimistic."
"I think we're going to have to be pretty creative, taking lemons and making lemonade," she added. "Hopefully we can find a solution that's best for our students and the programs we offer as well as our taxpayers and the responsibility we have to the community."
Cuts in state aid will add to decreases in program funding already anticipated for the 2009-2010 year at Keene Central School. In total, the state funding for the district will fall $40,070 if Paterson's budget is adopted as proposed. That represents a decrease of more than 6.5 percent.