DANSVILLE--While state aid has been rather favorable to rural school districts for the past few years, Dansville Central School District is gearing up for what could be a challenging year next year, with a possible revenue shortfall of between $800,000 to $1 million. This is due in part to the state’s own $2 billion unexpected income tax shortfall.
Dansville Central School Superintendent Paul Alioto, along with other area superintendents, will be traveling to Albany in March to meet with local Senator Catharine Young and Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes to advocate for favorable school aid. He said that he is open to meeting with other representatives as well, and has done so in the past.
“We have some additional fears this year,” Alioto said. “Now that the Republicans lost their majority in the Senate, we’re concerned about the negotiating power that our Republican Senator and Republican Assemblywoman actually have in trying to get more state aid. We just don’t know how things are going to turn out.”
Alioto said it could all turn out well, but equitable funding could also turn into a upstate/downstate battle or a rural/urban battle. If that happens, Dansville and other area districts could lose out.
“We simply don’t have the number of representatives to successfully sway the majority of persons voting for the final budget,” he said, adding that he’s been a rural school superintendent for 15 years and has never seen this kind of scenario in Albany.
“It makes it very difficult to predict whether or not we are going to get aid, and if we are going to get aid, how much.”
Alioto said he’s confident that Albany will have its final budget by April 1. That being said, Dansville and other local districts should have their budgets finalized by April 16. The public vote on the school budget is May 21.
Though it might be challenging to predict state aid revenue for next year, Alioto said he is still optimistic that the district can protect opportunities for students, and if any cuts are necessary, they will not be in student programs.
Alioto wanted to clarify that the district’s upcoming summer-long capital project will not be affected. State Building Aid for capital improvements and Foundation Aid for general operations come from two different revenue sources. He also said that if the state stuck with the Foundation Aid formula as intended, the district would not be in an unpredictable situation, but would actually see an operational increase of $2 million next year.