By Janee Law
Northport-East Northport School District officials believe the state funding it will receive for its 2016-2017 budget could greatly vary depending on whether state officials restore the gap elimination adjustment.
In the presentation during the school board’s Feb. 11 meeting, officials said they believe the district could receive $840,048 in additional state funding if it receives full restoration of the GEA, a budgeting tact that was introduced by the state during the 2009-2010 budgeting year, and has significantly reduced school district aid.
Since 2012, the state has gradually reimbursed districts across the state, including $603 million last year. This year, reports out of Albany have stated that Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-E. Northport) is heavily advocating for a full elimination of the GEA.
With the full restoration, the Northport-East Northport School District expects to receive around $14.70 million in state aid, which would be an increase from the $13.91 million it received last budget cycle.
If the district does not receive any additional funding from the GEA, its state aid for the 2016-2017 budget could fall to as low as around $13.86 million.
In an email Tuesday, school board President Andrew Rapiejko said the district remains hopeful that the “full GEA will be restored.”
“Although it is early in the budget process, the district would use the funds to support our instructional programs,” he said.
He added that additional state aid would help to offset the restriction of the tax levy limit, which is projected to come in at less than 1 percent.
“The consumer price index is so low that it’s bringing the levy limit for us [to] around .5 or .6” percent, Robert Banzer, superintendent, said during the school board meeting. “[That’s] what we’re looking at in terms of what we can raise from the local taxpayer as a percentage.”
But, Rapiejko said, it will ultimately be up to the entire board to decide “how the full GEA would be used, if restored.”
The board did not release any additional figures for its tentative 2016-2017 budget during last week’s meeting. However, in the presentation, officials stated that they hope to “improve academic achievement, maintain programs and class size, continue historically low tax levy increases, and look for efficiencies and savings.”
The Northport-East Northport school board will host a regular meeting on March 3 at 7 p.m. There is also a special meeting planned for March 10 to discuss the district’s proposed budget.