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Taxes could make local schools 'financially insolvent'

Canandaigua, N.Y. -- Superintendents at some local school districts announced Wednesday their schools will be financially insolvent in three years. Many are rural districts that depend more on state aid.

During the recession in 2008, then-Gov. David Paterson withheld state funding in the form of gap elimination adjustment. It was supposed to be a one-time deal but it is still going on six years later.

Since then, they Wayne-Finger Lakes and Genesee Valley BOCES systems have cut more than 850 positions. This year, their funding shortfall tops $45 million. If it continues, districts including Gananda, Lyons and Byron-Bergen will be insolvent in three years.

Everyone from custodians, bus driver, administrators, weve had to reduce drastically, says Casey Kosiorek, superintendent for the Byron-Bergen Central School District. Weve made 50 cuts, unfortunately. This Friday, Ill be making additional meeting with staff notifying them that theyll be reduced. So very troublesome.

We actually received about $1 million less in aid, total aid, in this upcoming year than we did in 2008-2009, five years ago, said Matt Cole, superintendent for the Livonia Central School District.

What this means to us is our reserves are dwindling, said Michael Collins, a Williamson Central School District board member. Were getting to the point now where we could be insolvent in three to four years.

The state funds mean more to the budgets of smaller rural districts.

Sixty-one percent is based on state aid, said Kosiorek. So some other districts that might be more dense may have a greater tax base may be able to weather the storm a little better, but when you're talking about over 50 percent of your operational budget it's pretty devastating."

If Albany lawmakers restore this money, these superintendents promise no tax increases.

These school leaders said cuts to kindergarten, arts and sports programs are all part of their current budgets if this funding isnt made available.

Theyre just now stepping up lobbying efforts in Albany.

A state budget vote is expected before the end of the month.

 
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