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Norwood-Norfolk Central School. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

NORFOLK — Now that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has released his proposed state aid figures, Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials are taking a preliminary look at their 2020-21 budget.

The district’s Board of Education held a budget workshop last week and will discuss the budget again during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“We don’t have all the answers yet. We’re still sharpening our pencils and taking a look at what we have,” Superintendent James Cruikshank said.

He said the preliminary budget is based on the governor’s proposal, “which is typically the most conservative as compared to the Senate and Assembly.”

Gov. Cuomo has proposed a 3 percent increase in state education spending. Total state education spending would increase by $826 million to $28.5 billion.

Mr. Cruikshank said the board originally believed there was a large increase in foundation aid, the district’s main source of revenue. But, upon closer examination, that wasn’t the case.

“A lot of expense-based aid is rolled into that. So really, we ended up with about $294,000 in foundation aid,” he said.

He called it “fairly underwhelming” because the district is $2 million underfunded in foundation aid.

“That’s just this current year,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

The foundation aid was established when the state’s highest court ruled in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that New York was underfunding schools. The formula was originally scheduled to be phased in over four years. But with the onset of the Great Recession, the state froze foundation aid funding at 2008-09 levels and pushed back the phase-in schedule to 2013-14.

As state budget gaps continued to widen, the phase-in schedule was abandoned and the gap elimination adjustment was put in place to further restrict school aid.

The freeze on foundation aid funding ended in 2012-13. Since then, the state has not followed the actual foundation aid formula that was adopted in 2007.

“It appears the governor wants to throw out the foundation aid formula. It came about through a lawsuit, which prompted New York state to develop a formula to equitably fund schools,” Mr. Cruikshank said. “I get the governor’s desire to throw it out because they haven’t been following it. To follow it would be very difficult for the state.”

While the board wants for the Senate and Assembly to announce their state aid recommendations, he said they’ve reviewed their fund balance to update the board on where the district stood for the current school year.

“Hopefully that will allow us to make better informed decisions here in the next few weeks,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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