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Report: Most NYS School Districts Face Serious Financial Trouble Without Federal, State Help

WAER file photo

A new report finds school districts in Central New York and across the state will face serious financial trouble if they do not receive state aid over the next few years.  Governor Cuomo has threatened to cut state education funding as part of a larger effort to address the state’s ballooning deficit. 

Andrew Van Alstyne is Director of Education and Research with the Association of School Business Officials of New York.  He says cuts in state aid will reach both well-funded and poorer districts.

"This level of aid cut if extended for multiple years will leave very few districts unharmed.  Your average district might have the resources and the reserves to make it through this year.  But if things continue to decline, if there is no federal support, if state revneues truly do fall down this chasm, the majority of districts will be suffering tremendously."

Van Alstyne says districts are facing additional, recurring expenses for PPE stockpiles and technology, on top of their regular needs.

"Districts need to replenish stockpiles as they're used.  Technology has maintenance costs associated to it, it needs to be updated.  The average district spends about $500,000 on COVID-19.  We would only expect this number to go up over the course of the year."

The report, prepared by the New York State School Boards Association and the Association of School Business Officials, found mroe than 60 percent of districts expect to make instructional staffing cuts in the next year, and about 40 percent face "fiscal or educational insolvency" if state aid cuts persist beyond this school year.  Van Alstyne says the impact would be felt beyond the schools.

"School districts are not only educational providers; they're social and economic hubs of a lot of communities.  Staff reductions would have a multiplicative effect.  It would harm education and would harm the economic well-being of the communities they're located in."  

Van Alstyne says the highest priority is securing aid from the federal government, with recognition of the additional costs faced by districts.