A Schools Windfall From Surplus?

With Governor Andrew Cuomo now projecting a $2 billion surplus for New York, Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle hope to return some of that money into school coffers.

    If legislation jointly introduced in Albany this week by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle passes and becomes part of the state budget on April 1, several local school districts stand to benefit substantially.

    The legislation would put an end to the so-called “gap elimination adjustment,” which was enacted a few years ago at the height of the recession to counteract cuts in state aid to schools, as part of a $10 billion budget deficit.

    With Governor Andrew Cuomo now projecting a $2 billion surplus for New York, Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle hope to return some of that money into school coffers.

    “The theory being, that we had to do that adjustment when we had a deficit,” said Mr. Thiele. “But if we don’t have a deficit anymore, why are we still taking this money from schools?”

     “It’s real money,” he continued. “As school districts have to deal with things like the property tax cap and unfunded mandates and the Common Core, if the state has a surplus, tax cuts and freezes are good, but we shouldn’t be paying for them with funding for education.”

    According to estimates provided by Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle, if their proposal passes, East Hampton would receive $218,265 this year and $436,531 by 2015. Amagansett would get $17,584 in 2014 and $35,167 in 2015, Springs would get $82,808 in 2014 and $165,616 in 2015, and Sag Harbor would receive $120,698 in 2014 and $241,395 in 2015.

    Bridgehampton would receive $33,852 this year and $67,703 in 2015, and Montauk would receive $45,523 in 2014 and $91,046 in 2015.

    The proposed legislation was welcome news to school administrators, particularly as annual budgets are under review and districts are forced to do more with less.

    “I am supportive of any increases in funding that will help us to improve the quality of education for students,” said Richard J. Burns, the superintendent of the East Hampton School District