YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There is some good news, but it’s still a bad situation for New York public school districts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s administration says it will not withhold 20% of the aid due this month. So, a money crunch has been delayed, but there are still worries, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Friday.
The finance office at Yonkers City Hall got the good news Thursday. The state will send a full school aid payment this month, and won’t hold back a big chunk of that money.
John Liszewski is city finance commissioner.
“We were expecting to receive $14 million less than that. Luckily, we anticipate now receiving the entire $70 million,” Liszewski said.
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School districts across the state have been on pins and needles. Smaller aid payments in July and August came in at 80% of what was budgeted, as the Cuomo administration grapples with a massive coronavirus pandemic-fueled budget mess.
The Legislature gave the governor power to withhold a percentage of school aid as he saw fit. The funding formula already penalizes Yonkers, which gets $11,000 per student in aid, far less than aid delivered to Rochester and Buffalo.
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A 20% reduction in state aid had Yonkers looking at something of an educational doomsday scenario — the elimination of 700 school jobs. The state teachers union is suing, demanding full payment of all the aid allocated in the state budget.
The NYS Division of the Budget released the following statement to CBS2:
“Only 1% of annual school aid has been temporarily withheld, the September payments are being made in full, and going forward, we will continue to advocate for federal assistance and evaluate the State’s fiscal condition each month. Until we have clarity on the amount of Federal assistance, it is premature to make any permanent spending reductions, at which point all options would be considered to limit the impacts of a Federal failure to act and offset the State’s $62 billion, four-year revenue loss.”
The state School Boards Association says the September payment is progress, but the peril of deep cuts in coming months and possible layoffs remains.
“Instead of having those conversations now, we’re in a situation where it’s going to be the end of September or the beginning of October, absent any additional positive news from either the state or the federal government,” the NYSSBA’s Brian Fessler said.
Has there ever been a more stressful start to a school year?
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