By Jaime Thomas
Local and statewide lobbying for increased educational funding yielded results last week as Cathy Somich, Granville School District’s business manager, received some good news.
The district found out it will see an increase of $211,000 in state aid, which officials were initially not sure they would receive.
“Legislature had a lot of lobbying going on; they had a lot more pressure this year,” Somich said. She said $97,000 of the aid is gap elimination funding, which the district very much needs, $33,000 is in foundation-based aid and the rest is expense-based aid.
Somich said the aid notification was “very good news,” as she was expecting about $100,000 less. Though the board still has to discuss and vote on the final budget, Somich thinks they will use this additional money to reduce withdrawing from the fund balance.
“We anticipate stretching the fund balance as long as we can. If aid stays consistent, there’s a good chance we’ll be in good shape for opening the school in the 2016-2017 school year,” Somich said. Many schools throughout New York state ran out of their fund balance this year, so they were forced to declare insolvency.
While the district will still have to spend $1,000,000 of its balance, the $200,000 savings will provide more money for the future.
“We’re using the fund balance to give us more time to plan,” Somich said. She also said unexpected factors, such as retirements and lower enrollment, could affect future numbers.
Somich is grateful to anyone who lobbied on behalf of the Granville School District. She said she knows a number of people who wrote to Senator Little and Assemblyman Stec. She feels this public input was key in making New York government aware of schools’ dire situations.
“More and more schools are saying this is impossible to maintain,” Somich said. At a budget workshop last month, the board proposed a 2.5 percent tax increase. The budget currently stands at about $25,000,000.
The board of education will vote on the proposed budget on April 15 at 7 p.m.