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Cuomo's budget plan includes more aid for Cayuga County-area schools
EDUCATION

Cuomo's budget plan includes more aid for Cayuga County-area schools

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Students catch the bus in Auburn.

Nine school districts in the Cayuga County area would get more state aid if Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2020-21 budget proposal is adopted. 

Jordan-Elbridge and Weedsport would each receive a 5.43% increase in state funding, according to school aid runs released by the state Division of Budget. Aid for the Cato-Meridian and Union Springs districts would increase by more than 4%. Moravia would get 3.8% more in aid. 

State aid for Auburn, the largest of the nine districts in the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES system, would increase by 2.45%. Southern Cayuga would get a 2.06% bump in aid. Skaneateles' share of state funding would rise by 1.66%. 

The district with the lowest proposed aid hike is Port Byron, which would receive 0.92% more in funding. 

Cuomo proposed an $826 million school aid increase in the 2020-21 fiscal year. That's well short of what several education groups wanted. 

The New York State Educational Conference Board, which is comprised of the New York State School Boards Association, New York State United Teachers and four other organizations, wants a $2.1 billion aid hike. 

Andy Pallotta, president of New York State United Teachers, panned Cuomo's aid proposal. 

"When it comes to fully funding public education, every year we hear the same thing at the start of the budget process: We have a huge deficit, so don't ask for money," Pallotta said. "But what we're really asking for is for New York to keep its promises. Educational inequality is the most pressing issue of our time because the state is billions of dollars behind on Foundation Aid funding for roughly 400 school districts statewide." 

Foundation aid, which is base funding for school districts, has been the subject of criticism in the past. NYSUT and other groups believe billions in foundation aid is owed to school districts. 

During his budget address Tuesday, Cuomo expressed support for revamping the aid formula. He said foundation aid "doesn't accurately judge poverty." As he did last year, he called for aid to be provided to the neediest schools. 

Cuomo also highlighted the regional component of the aid formula which was established decades ago. While he acknowledged the "intelligence of regional distribution," he added that it's a different time. 

"We can do better than that," he said. 

School aid is usually the final item addressed in state budget negotiations. Cuomo and state legislative leaders hope to have the budget finalized before April 1 — the state of the new fiscal year. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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