Chatham could see more, but not much

CHATHAM–Last week school business administrator Michael Chudy presented Chatham’s preliminary estimates regarding state aid the district could receive for the 2014-2015 school year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget, released last month, projects almost $6.67 million in total aid for Chatham Central School District. The governor’s spending plan showed all districts in the county receiving some increase, with Chatham receiving the second lowest increase among the county’s six public school districts in terms of percentage: 1.83% over the current year. That would translate into $119,558 additional aid.

 

Mr. Chudy had a different view of the numbers. He said at the Tuesday, January 28 Board of Education meeting that after adjusting the governor’s numbers for reductions based on updated data, total state aid would actually be just over $6.6 million. This would be an increase of $65,563, or about 1% over the current year’s aid.

Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo said revenues are not keeping pace with rising costs.

Mr. Chudy told the school board that the line for what is called the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) implemented after the 2008 stock market crash is still hurting Chatham. The 2015 Executive Budget estimates a reduction of $640,387 in the district’s operating aid. Mr. Chudy said the GEA reduction has slightly softened year to year–it reduced aid by over $689,000 last year. But operating aid from the state is “still significantly less” than it was in 2008, he said. At that time, he said, “We were receiving about $60,000 more in operating aid.”

After the GEA reduction, the Executive Budget puts the district’s net Foundation Aid, the largest category of annual school aid from the state, at $3.835 million, an increase of over $49,000 from last year.

There are also aid categories that the district receives as reimbursement for expenses like transportation. Using more recent data, Mr. Chudy that some of those expenses will be lower than the governor’s budget anticipates, and that would reduce the overall aid to the district by more than $61,000.

The governor’s budget proposal is now being reviewed and debated by both houses of the state legislature, where some changes are likely based on the history of budget negotiations. By law, the budget is supposed to be adopted by April 1. In recent years the governor and the legislature have met the deadline.

Also at the January 28 board meeting:

Board President Melony Spock told those in attendance that board members and school officials will “not comment in any way” on an “investigation regarding one of our teachers.” She said the law prevents the board from answering any questions or confirming or denying any information.

“This is done to protect the rights of the employee and others involved,” she said. She stated that the board was aware of “incorrect and inaccurate information, rumors, and speculations being circulated in the community.”

Ms. Nuciforo said there were eight applicants for the open seat on the board. She said interviews were scheduled for the applicants and the board would vote to appoint one of them in February.

Board member Mike Clark discussed a new proposed policy regarding Board of Education Code of Ethics. He said the purpose of the policy is to hold board members to the same standards that is expected from school staff. It was the policy’s first reading.

Ms. Nuciforo presented achievement awards to Ms. Spock and board member Gail Day for participation in the New York State School Board Association Leadership Development Training.

Student representative Collin Anderson told the board that he and the student government are working on surveys for the students to complete regarding the capital project.

 

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