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March 6, 2014

School officials renew criticism of Gap Elimination Adjustment

With the state projecting a surplus, local school officials are joining a growing protest against Gap Elimination Adjustment.

The GEA was initially introduced as a temporary way to cut funding and reduce the $10 billion NYS budget deficit in 2010. Cuomo said in January of this year, that the state could accumulate a $500 million budget surplus for this coming year if lawmakers control spending increases to two percent.

“The Governor said that next year there will be a surplus in the budget,” said Tim Ryan, the superintendent of the Cherry Valley-School District. “Wouldn’t it make sense for the GEA to go away?”

For the next fiscal year, beginning April 1, Cuomo proposed a 3.8 percent increase in aid for schools, to $21.9 billion. This slight increase is not enough for local school districts, the officials said.

Robert Miller, the superintendent in the Herkimer School District and former superintendent of Cherry Valley-Springfield, said this lack of funding especially effects high-needs districts, such as CV-S.

“State aid is higher in poorer districts,” Miller said. “The poorer communities are much more dependent on state aid.”

State aid is higher in districts that do not have as much money coming in through taxes, Miller said.

Ryan said CV-S has lost nearly 2.2 million dollars since 2010.

“That has hurt us considerably. In a small district that’s a considerable amount of money that we haven’t had,” Ryan said. “We’ve had to try to make up for it in other areas.

“We had to cut staff positions,” Ryan continued. “We’re down to bare bones now.”

Miller said he had to reduce his instructional and support staff in CV-S by 10 percent in 2010.

“We had to change the ways that we delivered services which caused a cultural shift,” Miller said.

“It’s almost like the Governor is saying ‘we have to make sure our students are college and career ready with the Common Core, but I’m not going to pay for it,’” Miller said.

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