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Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Angela Ryan is the new Matthew House executive director.

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Two Cayuga County districts subject to NY budget school spending mandate in 2018-19

Following adoption of the state budget last week, two Cayuga County districts, including the county's largest, will be required to submit building-by-building spending data to the state beginning in the 2018-19 school year. 

Auburn and Union Springs school districts will be subject to the mandate in its first year, according to the state Division of Budget. In the 2018-19 school year, the reporting requirement applies to districts with four or more schools and state aid accounting for more than 50 percent of their revenue. 

Auburn has five elementary schools, a junior high school and a high school. Union Springs has three buildings — an elementary school, junior high and high school — and is in the process of closing one of its elementary schools. But since the state is using a prior year's data, it shows Union Springs as having four buildings. 

The districts will be required to detail how much money it spends on each school. This information will be submitted to the state budget director and published so the public can view the data. 

In 2019-20, districts with at least four schools will be subject to the reporting requirement. The mandate will apply to all other districts beginning in the 2020-21 school year. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the provision because he believes it will increase education spending transparency and help address inequity in how aid is distributed. He has repeatedly said that the state spends more per pupil than any other state, but doesn't believe it's being given to the schools that need it the most. 

"Let's get that analysis, let's get it statewide, then let's run all the entire list of schools in the state," he said at a press conference Friday in Albany. "Who gets what, what performance level and then you can come up with an equitable funding mechanism." 

But education leaders question whether the reporting requirement is necessary. 

Michael Borges, executive director of the New York State Association of School Business Officials, said the mandate will be "redundant" because the federal government is already requiring school districts to report per pupil spending by building beginning at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year. 

However, Borges acknowledged that the state-level requirement will go further because how schools allocate funding will be reviewed by the state Division of Budget and the state Education Department. He also noted that districts will need to reconfigure their existing accounting systems because budgeting software is usually designed to record district-wide spending, not building-by-building expenditures. 

"This is a very expensive unfunded mandate that particularly for rural poor districts that don't have the staff to conduct this kind of analysis is going to be overly burdensome," he said. 

Auburn Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo explained that the data on a building-by-building basis could be misleading.

In his district, there is an elementary school with three special education classes which elevates the per pupil costs. Poverty is more prevalent at some schools. The presence of athletics at the junior high and high school are factored into the schools' budget. 

"How are we going to equally disburse all the money among buildings and what is the state really looking for?" Pirozzolo asked. "For a school district like Auburn, I don't know what that's going to prove."

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Kara Georgi places blue pinwheels with her son, Michael, to raise awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Seward Elementary School students Josephine Garland, left, and Eliana Georgi place blue pinwheels in front of their school Monday to raise awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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Auburn hospital could soon lease former nursing home from Cayuga County

Auburn Community Hospital's proposal to take over Cayuga County's former nursing home building could be taking shape. A draft lease proposal has circulated in committee meeting documents following an early March discussion where some legislators were angry about the hospital's lack of movement.

The nursing home, which closed in 2015, is located at 7541 County House Road in Sennett. About a year ago, hospital officials told Cayuga County it was interested in the property for relocating the Finger Lakes Center for Living, a nursing home operated by ACH at its main campus in Auburn. 

The proposal would also including relocating some doctors' offices to ACH's Lansing Street campus, in addition to opening up a 10-bed alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, officials had said. 

The proposed lease with option to purchase agreement was included in resolutions for March's Ways and Means Committee meeting. ACH proposed a $2,000 per month lease plus utilities for 12 months with an option to renew for an additional 12 months. The draft agreement also included language to negotiate a purchase price at a later time.

During the March 20 committee meeting, however, legislators chose not to vote on the resolution, and they did not vote again at the full Legislature meeting on March 27.

"We're still in contract negotiations with the nursing home," said Cayuga County Administrator J. Justin Woods in a phone call Monday. "We're working on some details, and we're trying to get through those."

Once those details are worked out, Woods said a resolution would be brought forward to legislators. It was not clear Monday if that would happen in April. Hospital officials said they did not have a comment at this time.

The lease proposed in the Ways and Means documents came after some legislators said they wanted a "drop-dead date" for the hospital to take on the building. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in October that would allow the county to sell or lease the property to ACH, and some lawmakers were frustrated that five months later, there was still no plan.

"If they can't move that fast, then that's not the direction to go, but we can't let this linger around another 12 months," Legislator Paul Pinckney had said.

Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould announces retirement

Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould said he will not be seeking another term as sheriff. 

In a press release Monday, Gould discussed his plans to retire after almost 50 years in law enforcement. A retired New York State Police officer, Gould was first elected as sheriff in 2006, when he defeated former Sheriff Rob Outhouse. He then won a second and third terms in 2010 and 2014 without opposition. 

Last month, Gould indicated he would retire when he confirmed talks with Det. Lt. Brian Schenck, who filed paperwork to launch a campaign to run for sheriff. At the time, Gould said he had already made his decision, and would make an official announcement in April. 

"After much discussion, consideration and thought together with my family, I have made my decision to not seek a fourth term as Cayuga County sheriff," he said Monday. "I have been so honored to be able to have served my country in the United States Army, my state as a member of the New York State Police, to serve my county as the elected Cayuga County sheriff and to be able to serve the citizens of this great community." 

Gould thanked many members of the community, including the staff at the sheriff's office, state police and federal branches like the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney's Office. He offered special thanks to Undersheriff Jim Stowell, Jail Administrator Jim Taber and District Attorney Jon Budelmann, as well as the county legislators, treasurer, clerk and coroner. 

Gould's career will come to a close at midnight, Dec. 31. As of Monday, Schenck had the only other active sheriff campaign committee — the Committee to Elect Brian Schenck Sheriff — listed with the state Board of Elections. 

"In closing, it has meant so very much to my family and myself to be able to serve all my friends and all the great citizens of our beautiful county," Gould said. "When I campaigned for the sheriff's office, I used a slogan that I would like to close with: 'Respect should never be demanded. Respect should always be earned.'" 

Sarah Jean Condon, The Citizen file 

Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould has announced he will not seek a new term.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Five-hundred blue pinwheels were placed in front of Seward Elementary School to raise awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. One pinwheel is for every student at the school.

Republican Molinaro kicks off campaign for New York governor

ALBANY — Republican Marc Molinaro vowed Monday to change what he called Albany's climate of corruption and behind-closed-doors deals as he formally kicked off his campaign for New York governor.

Taking aim at two-term Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Molinaro criticized "leaders who squander the public's trust by putting the personal politics of ambition and greed above government's true purpose" of serving the people.

If he gets his party's nomination, Molinaro faces a daunting task in trying to beat Cuomo, son of the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo. The younger Cuomo has about $30 million in his campaign war chest, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin in New York state.

Molinaro, a 42-year-old married father of three, was elected county executive of Dutchess County in November 2011. He's the top elected leader in one of New York's more affluent counties, where a mix of high-tech industries, rural charm and proximity to New York City generally have shielded it from the economic stagnation still plaguing many upstate counties.

A graduate of a local two-year community college, Molinaro lacks a four-year degree but has plenty of on-the-job experience for public office. He was elected a village trustee at age 18 in 1994, then was elected Tivoli's mayor later that same year, making him the youngest mayor in the U.S. at the time. After 12 years as mayor, he served in the Dutchess County Legislature and followed that up by serving in the state Assembly from 2007 to 2011.

"It is here, in this very building, for over 4,000 days I learned about the importance, the privilege and the responsibility of holding elective office," Molinaro said at his campaign kickoff event at Tivoli Village Hall.

Molinaro initially had said he wouldn't seek the Republican nomination for governor but changed his mind last month after state Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, announced he would seek the party's nomination to challenge Cuomo. Since then, Molinaro has picked up support from most county GOP leaders across New York. The state Republican Party will select its candidate in May.

"Whether it's Molinaro or DeFrancisco, it's clear that the New York GOP is intent on pushing an ultra-conservative Trump agenda, and a candidate that has the same positions as Trump with a different hair color," said Geoff Berman, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

At Molinaro's second campaign Monday afternoon at an Albany hotel just down the street from the Capitol, he continued to criticize Cuomo, who faces a Democratic primary challenge from "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon.

"When this governor came into office, I had the same belief that many had, that perhaps he'd sweep in a new day," Molinaro said after his speech. "But instead we've had seven years of a new normal where pay-for-play politics and this corrosive corruption and culture of more corruption continues to paralyze the way in which state government is supposed to function."

During his earlier remarks, he referred to last month's conviction of the governor's former top aide on corruption charges. A Manhattan jury found Joseph Percoco guilty on federal bribery and fraud charges stemming from acceptance of more than $300,000 in bridges from companies looking to do business with the state.

Cuomo wasn't accused of any wrongdoing, but the trial and others on the upcoming docket involving former high-profile state government figures highlight Albany's pay-to-play culture.

"Whether you know it or not, whether Albany accepts it or not, all New Yorkers are paying a corruption tax," Molinaro said. "It's a hidden, undermining, corrosive tax on every single New Yorker."