Archive for March, 2011

Assembly provides summary of state budget agreements

March 31st, 2011 by Robert Lowry

The Assembly Majority has issued a summary of the conference committee agreements underlying the 2011-12 state budget.

Here is the section covering the State Education Department, including School Aid and other programs affecting school districts.

For the time being, this is the most complete summary of what’s in the budget I have seen.

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School Aid runs for the 2011-12 state budget now available — updated with clarification

March 30th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Here.

More commentary in the morning.

An important clarification:

In the School Aid runs issued for the Governor’s proposed budget, the “Net Gap Elimination Adjustment” for 2010-11 reflected the inclusion of allocations totaling $608 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund.

In the aid runs released late on Wednesday for the final state budget, the 2010-11 Net Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) does not reflect the inclusion of Education Jobs Fund allocations.

This difference in presentation may create confusion.

Excluding the EJF allocations makes the year-to-year change in total aid under the enacted budget look smaller than the change under the Governor’s budget, even without taking into account the Legislature’s $230 million restoration for School Aid.

Accordingly, we recommend comparing the total aid for 2011-12 under the enacted budget with the total aid under the Governor’s proposed budget.

The Legislature also used updated data in its aid calculations, this would also cause differences in aid under the proposed and enacted budgets.

When the Governor’s budget first came out, I thought it would have been reasonable for the administration to present aid totals and changes in aid with and without Education Jobs Fund allocations.

Federal law required states to allocate EJF funds to districts in 2010-11 but permits districts to use their EJF allocations in either the 2010-11 or 2011-12 school year.

Data recently released by the State Comptroller indicated that statewide, districts have so far used 42 percent of their available EJF funds.  But there are wide variations among districts, with some using all their allocation this year, some saving it all for next year, and some using portions in each year.

If a district is using all its EJF funds this year, then including the funds in 2010-11 aid total — as done in the Governor’s run — presents an accurate picture of the district’s state revenue picture.

On the other hand, if a district is saving all its EJF allocation for 2011-12, omitting that aid from the 2010-11 total may provide a better representation of the district’s position.  The district will receive less revenue from the state, since it received EJF money in 2010-11 and will not in 2011-12, but it still has some 2010-11 revenue available for use in 2011-12.

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School Aid runs to be posted this afternoon. So they say. UPDATED

March 30th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Numerous sources have been reporting that School Aid runs will be available sometime this afternoon.

But they have yet to materialize.

As soon as they do, we will post them.

UPDATE (5 pm):  This could take awhile.  Given where internal processes are in each house, education budget bills may not come up for votes until late this evening or tomorrow, delaying the likely availability of School Aid runs.

The Assembly and Senate are working their way through the process of passing the dozen or so pairs of bills (one for each house) which make up the state budget.

The amended Aid to Localities bill, which contains appropriations for School Aid and other education programs has yet to be released, nor has the “language bill” covering education.

The latter bill details changes in aid formulas and other programmatic requirements so that spending levels prescribed in laws will conform with what the appropriations will support.

In a Monday post, I summarized the agreements between the Governor and Legislature covering education.  We expect that the actual budget will be consistent with what the leaders announced on Sunday and Monday.  But many details remained unresolved when I wrote on Monday.

To be literally on-time, all bills would need to be passed by midnight Thursday.  The Senate is promising to pass all the bills today.  The Assembly reportedly will not stay through the night tonight, but would reconvene Thursday morning to approve whatever remains undone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Governor, Legislative Leaders agree to agree on a state budget

March 28th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo and the Legislative Leaders announced agreement on a state budget for 2011-12.

They have not resolved all details, however.

Passage of the actual budget bills may not happen until Wednesday or Thursday.

We may not see School Aid runs or the detailed budget bills until Wednesday or Thursday, either.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Council, NYSSBA news releases: School budgeting choices — what and why

March 24th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, the New York State School Boards Association released findings from a survey on the budgeting choices school districts are contemplating.

Among the key findings:  81 percent of districts anticipate laying-off classroom teachers if proposed state aid reductions are enacted, and majorities foresee reductions in extra help, extracurricular activities, athletics, and elective classes, as well as increased class sizes.

Today the Council released data illuminating why local school leaders are considering these grim choices:  nearly three-quarters of districts are receiving less aid this year than they did two years ago and if the proposed School Aid cuts are enacted the figure would rise above 90 percent.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Senate shifting on tax cap?

March 23rd, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Newsday reports, “Long Island senators, who have helped spearhead a push for a statewide property-tax cap, now say it’s unlikely a cap gets enacted at all this year.”

The move could be a ploy to push Governor Cuomo to become more aggressive in pursuing mandate relief.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A response to the Governor

March 18th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo asserted that school districts could absorb his proposed $1.5 billion, 7.3 percent, cut in state aid without resorting to teacher layoffs and other actions that would hurt student services.

What follows is a response.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, State Budget | 3 Comments »

Distracting

March 3rd, 2011 by Robert Lowry

On Monday, Governor Cuomo revealed a proposal to impose a state cap on superintendent salaries.

It is an attempt to focus debate on the $15 million his administration says the proposal would save, instead of on the damage his $1.5 billion state aid cut would cause for schools and students.

The Albany Times Union published an editorial titled “Gov. Cuomo’s unworthy debate.”

The Journal News serving the Lower Hudson Valley warned, “Superintendent cap won’t improve schools.”

Watertown Daily Times called for “No salary caps.”

Our statement in response to the proposal observed that, “School systems need strong and resourceful leaders as superintendents now more than ever,” and that districts are already finding it hard to get candidates for superintendent positions.

On the evening of the day the Governor made his proposal, the Council’s Executive Director Bob Reidy appeared on the statewide cable news program, Capital Tonight.

Today, Bob was on the statewide public radio program, Capitol Pressroom.

The Governor’s proposal would cap superintendent salaries based on district enrollment.  Salaries superintendents serving districts with enrollments up to 250 students would be capped at $125,000. The cap would rise in $10,000 increments up to a maximum of $175,000 for districts with more than 6,501 students.

The proposal would affect contracts entered into, amended or extended after the bill becomes law, if it does.

The bill is unclear on what should happen if a district’s enrollment changes enough to move it from one cap size to another.

The bill also limits superintendent benefits to those available to state management/confidential employees. 

Superintendents would not be able to receive compensation for accrued vacation or sick leave or use accrued sick leave to pay health costs in retirement in a manner which differed from that provided to state M/C employees.  In many cases, superintendents would be allowed fewer vacation and sick leave days than more junior school employees.

If a district chose to pay the insurance benefit costs (health, disability, life or other insurance) for superintendents, the amount paid would be included in the total annual salary of the superintendent for purposes of the cap.

The Times-Union also offered this editorial cartoon in response to the Governor’s proposal.

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