Budget adjustment bad fit for Schoharie County school districts
A three letter acronym is the bane of rural school district budgeting.
Millions of dollars promised to school districts by the state is withheld as part of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA as it was contempuously referred to by school officials from Schoharie County school districts gathered Tuesday night in the cafeteria of the Schoharie Central School. The message these officials had for Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, and state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who teamed up to organize the forum, was that the state has to redo the formula that calculates this adjustment.
The GEA is budgeting tool created during the recent state fiscal crisis and continues in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014, which strips the six Schoharie County school districts of almost $6.5 million.
A complete breakdown of the proposed aid to Schoharie County school districts is available below.
The Gilboa-Conesville district lost $406,309 through the Gap Elimination Adjustment, the Jefferson district lost $249,718, Middleburgh lost $921,468, Cobleskill-Richmondville lost $2,859,047, Schoharie lost $1,673,068 and Sharon Springs lost $370,534.
At the forum, Lopez suggested expanding the state's pool of money for education to decrease the need for withholding money through the GEA. He wants to give schools about $500 million from the state's Division of Lottery revenues, which otherwise would be reinvested into lottery prizes.
"Would that be meaningful for the GEA?" he asked.
Lopez is inclined to support a game changing ideas to save rural schools, saying that small tweaks in recent years aren't enough to prevent these schools from failing in a few years. He argued, "We're nibbling around the edges."
A complete story on state funding for rural school districts is in the Wednesday issue of the Daily Gazette.
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