WOODBURY - State legislators from Long Island say they feel shortchanged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget.
When Gov. David Paterson put the Gap Elimination Adjustment in place during his tenure, it reduced school aid to districts depending on their wealth. Since Long Island is considered wealthier than other areas of the state, some districts have been hit harder in terms of funding.
“The poorer districts that are more dependent on state aid have lost a tremendous amount per pupil,” said Gary Bixhorn, of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. “We have districts like Sachem or South Country who have lost over $1,000 each year as a result of the GEA.”
William Floyd School Superintendent Dr. Paul Casciano says they lost 200 staff members, including 100 teachers, when the state faced a budget crisis four years ago.
“That translates into the loss of electives at the high school level,” said Casciano. “Our elementary instrumental music program was lost.”
Officials in the Cuomo administration say the school aid formula is aimed at getting the most aid to the districts with the highest needs. They pointed out that the governor has budgeted increases in school spending for three straight years.
Cuomo officials say the governor is proposing an overall $74 million increase in aid to school districts on Long Island.
Local lawmakers say they will fight to increase that amount before the state budget is passed by April 1.