2012-04-04 / Front Page

District getting more state aid

by ANDREA KIMBRIEL
Editor

School aid has been redistributed to districts throughout New York as a result of the enacted state budget, and Clarence is slated to receive $111,000 more than originally forecast.

Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks said the amount is close to what the district anticipated as part of an expected reallotment of close to $200 million of the state’s $250 million pool allocated for incentive based aid.

When the board settled on its tax levy limit during its March 24 budget meeting, it indicated that additional funds from the state should be used to reduce the appropriated fund balance, or surplus, for next year.

The budget proposal includes about $5 million to be taken from the surplus, an amount that won’t be sustainable in the future, said Hicks.

However, the budget was based on the expectation that a minimum of four teacher retirements would occur, equaling about $200,000 in reduced expenses, said Hicks. Only two teacher retirements were filed by the deadline on Monday, leaving the district with a $100,000 shortfall.

Hicks said the district may use the $111,000 to close the gap or in some other way. The Board of Education is expected to make a decision by the time it adopts a budget on April 16.

While teachers can retire at any time, they must give the district adequate notice in order to access benefits in their contract, such as the ability to trade in unused sick time, making it unlikely that retirements will be filed post-deadline, said Hicks.

The incentive-based aid pool still contains $50 million. The requirements for obtaining those funds are still being fleshed out, and there is no clear timeline of when the state will make that decision, said Hicks.

Requirements are often issued just weeks before the monies are distributed.

“We’ll have to hustle,” he said.

Because Clarence is a high-performing district it may be ineligible for some of the money.

There are two kinds of grants: those for academic performance and those for financial efficiencies, he said.

The Clarence district has taken steps toward greater efficiency by such actions as sharing the buildings and grounds and transportation supervisors with the Akron school district and an energy audit.

“We will be able to apply, but sometimes grant money is pushed toward very high-need districts,” he said, adding that this wasn’t a criticism, just a statement of fact.

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