Districts could lose millions as state proposes school funding cuts

Education

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Superintendents might not be able to rely on the state for funding for next year and for schools in our area, that could mean losing million of dollars.

Schools are expecting a cut in state funding , after governor Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica, said a 20% reductions to schools could be included in the upcoming financial plan, due to COVID-19, if the state doesn’t receive any federal funding.

This comes as schools are already juggling with the complications COVID-19 has brought to the current school year. Ken Hammel, principal of the Gates Chili high school joined faculty and staff at a food donation on Wednesday. With the window for schools to open getting smaller, many like him are worried students won’t return this year.

“As a district, I can just say that we miss our kids terribly,” said Ken Hammel, principal at Gates chili High School.

But getting back to school this year, or even planning for next year could have a huge financial toll on districts, as New York school districts could see up to a 20% decrease in state funding for next school year, according to the governor’s office.

In a press conference, Governor Cuomo said the state needs federal help to address the nearly $10 billion to $15 billion budget hole, and  without any federal funds, the state would need to cut schools, local governments and hospitals each by 20%.

For Penfield Central Schools, that’s between 5 and a half to 8 and a half million dollars says superintendent Dr. Thomas Putnam.

“Because of the COVID costs that the state is incurring, then that gets sort of passed over to the schools which is where that 20 to 30 percent decrease is coming from,” said Dr. Thomas Putnam, superintendent of Penfield Central school district, president of Monroe County Council of Superintendents.

And with budget meetings pushed back to June because of COVID-19, the timing couldn’t be worse as schools try to plan for the future with out knowing what back to school looks like after.

Many districts are forced to look at things like layoffs and budget cuts for next year.

“We’ve had tight years and we get through those this is unprecedented because it’s happening so late in the budget process,” said Putnam. “We would really require more funding online with what the state typical provides to benefit all schools particularity our students.”

Dr. Putnam is advocating for the federal government to include funds in their next stimulus package to help schools and local governments keep a balance budget.

Gov. Cuomo said he will release the state’s finical plan in middle of May, which will include the final numbers on what funding reductions districts can expect.

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