CHATHAM—Tentative school aid figures for all public school districts in the state were released Tuesday, March 31, as the legislature began passing the bills that make up the 2009-10 state budget. All districts in Columbia County will see increases in state aid under the proposal and the combined increase for the county is $4.5 million, thanks in part to assistance in the federal economic recovery act introduced by President Obama.
Democrats, who control the Assembly and the Senate, scrambled Tuesday, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to adopt the budget ahead of the April 1 deadline set by the state constitution. Republicans, meanwhile, criticized the return to the practice of previous years, which saw budget details worked out in private by the governor and the leaders of the two houses of the legislature.
The state has a complex formula for determining aid to each district based on the assumed wealth of the district and many other factors. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced and won passage of a simpler approach called “foundation aid,” but there are still many other components to the whole state aid package. One of them is a short-lived program called EXCEL funding, which helps pay for physical upgrades to school buildings among other things.
The new aid formulas show a range of aid increases for local school districts, ranging from a low of 2.4% for Taconic Hills to a high of 16.2% for the Hudson City School District. But Hudson will receive over $2.5 million in EXCEL aid for its major renovation project now under way. That’s many times what other districts expect to get in that category. When the EXCEL aid is removed from Hudson’s total, the district will receive about a 3% increase in state aid, slightly below the average for other school districts in the county.
The office of state Senator Steve Saland (R-41st) alerted the media Tuesday that the local aid figures were available. To see all the school aid “runs,” as the data on school aid funding are called, go to the state Senate website, www.senate.state.ny.us, and click on “SFY 2009-10 School Aid Runs” in the salmon-color menu on the right side of the page.
These are the projected aid figures for the new school year and the current year along with the percent increase for each district.
District 2009-10 2008-09 Increase
Taconic Hills 11,657,352 11,379,706 +2.4%
Germantown 5,348,544 5,059,859 +5.7%
Chatham 7,008,434 6,838,396 + 2.5
Hudson 22,185,398 19,088,228 +16.2%
Ichabod Crane 15,118,531 14,640,492 +3.3%
New Lebanon 4,125,699 3,913,758 +5.4%