On Friday, April 1, New York lawmakers approved a 2016-17 state budget that includes an overall $1.5 billion – or 6.5 percent – increase in education funding. The state budget ends the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has diverted billions of dollars from schools during the last seven years, including $10.8 million dollars from Fonda-Fultonville Central School District.
Back in January, Gov. Cuomo presented his executive budget proposal for 2016-17, which called to withhold another $266,299 in GEA funds from Fonda-Fultonville. Approval of this proposal would have brought the district’s total GEA losses over seven years to more than $11 million.
But state lawmakers, during four months of debate and negotiations in Albany, voted to finally end the GEA altogether, meaning Fonda-Fultonville will now receive the additional $266,299 the governor had intended to cut. The state instituted the GEA in 2009-10 to help address its own budget shortfalls brought on by the fiscal crisis at that time. Since then, school districts have lost a specified amount of state aid annually through the GEA. The end of the GEA means that state aid will not be reduced in this manner in 2016-17, an effective increase in funding that totals $434 million statewide.
“Fonda-Fultonville will never recover the $10.8 million it lost since the 2009-10 school year, but we are extremely pleased to see the end of the GEA,” Fonda-Fultonville Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ciaccio said. “To know money won’t be withheld from our general aid allows us to maintain programs and look at potential program enhancements that we would not be able to do if the GEA was still in place.”
“I would like to sincerely thank the community and our staff for remaining resilient and making sacrifices throughout the difficult times we endured during the era of the GEA,” Ciaccio continued. “We also appreciate what Sen. George Amedore and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara have done to support our school.”
The administration and Board of Education continue to develop a budget for the 2016-17 school year. Budget adoption is expected by April 20. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled Wednesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. at the middle school multi-purpose room. The annual budget vote is Tuesday, May 17 from noon to 9 p.m., at the high school auditorium. Please check the district website and your mail for budget updates over the next two months.