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Ken Slentz

Skaneateles Central School District Superintendent Ken Slentz speaks to students in 2017.

The Citizen file

Different Cayuga County-area school districts hope to receive more in school aid than originally presented in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed school aid projections for the 2018-2019 executive budget.

Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said the district's 1.38-percent foundation aid increase is not enough to cover staff's health insurance benefits for next year, let alone other considerations. Foundation aid is the base aid school districts receive.

"My concern is that we continue not to get aided the way that we're supposed to be," Pirozzolo said.

Pirozzolo mentioned Cuomo's recent remarks on wanting to give more aid to poor districts.

"Auburn, (which) is one of the poorest school districts, got a lower percentage increase than some of the other wealthier districts," Pirozzolo said.

"It's not enough to give funding to the poor districts," Cuomo said Tuesday. "You have to make sure the money goes to the poorest schools in the poorer districts. And right now we have no idea where the money is going ... And we should mandate that they have a formula that also mirrors our formula sending the money to the poorer schools." 

Cuomo's proposal would increase school aid by $769 million, including an additional $338 million in foundation aid. The Auburn district has long maintained that it hasn't annually received the amount of state aid that it should. Pirozzolo and other members of the New York State Association of Small City School Districts traveled to Albany Jan. 11 to lobby the state Senate Finance Committee to get bills passed. He said committee members were "receptive" to the association members. 

Pirozzolo said one of those bills included the elimination of the income wealth index floor, a component of the state's foundation aid formula for districts that calculates a district's income wealth relative to the statewide average. The district has previously said it would receive another $2.2 million if the floor were eliminated. Pirozzolo said he will continue to meet with lawmakers until the April 1 deadline for the state budget to pass on time.

"We will continue to lobby for the children of Auburn," he said.

Auburn recently dealt with financial issues, as the district faced an approximate $3.6 million deficit last year. Taxpayers voted for the district's 3.98-percent tax levy boost in May, and 13.5 positions were cut from the district.

The Skaneateles Central School District would see a 0.2-percent increase in foundation aid under the governor's 2018-2019 proposal. District Superintendent Ken Slentz said the percentage is "hardly a consideration for increasing costs for our students." Though the governor's office must account for all school districts, Slentz said, the Skaneateles district still has to provide for its own students. While Slentz said that number is "disappointing," he noted that these figures are not finalized. 

"We're going through our local analyses, but we're a few months away from having to put things in ink, if you will," Slentz said.

Southern Cayuga Central School District Superintendent Patrick Jensen said he also anticipates the numbers will change. The district is slated for a 0.2-percent hike in foundation aid, as well. He said the district originally predicted that it would receive a 1-percent boost, and he still believes the district will end up around that number. Jensen said that while it is still early in the budget process, the district anticipates keeping staffing levels stable.

"I think we'll be able to maintain current programming," Jensen said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.


Education Reporter