Monday Morning Briefing: What will NYS budget mean for our schools?

It was welcome news this morning that Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders appear to have reached a spending plan agreement that should put the state on track to get a budget passed before the often-ignored April 1 deadline.

The budget cuts overall spending for the first time in 15 years. Now let’s see if this agreement sticks after reporters, special interest groups and individual lawmakers review the details.

The budget does include restoring some $272,000 million to proposed school aid cuts. We should be finding out sometime today or tomorrow exactly how much state aid local school districts will be receiving, as Mr. Cuomo’s office is preparing budget bills to be sent to the Legislature.

Keep checking for those figures; we are in touch with all our local lawmakers.

Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney, who prepared a budget based on the governor’s proposed cuts being fully implemented, has said an increase in aid will not save any of the 38 positions, including 15 teacher positions, the district has eliminated for next year, as the district expects more belt-tightening ahead with a potential 2-percent local property tax cap bill looming in Albany.

• I hate to bog down these pieces with weather tid-bits, if only because they have been so depressing of late, but I made the mistake of going out to fetch my morning newspaper in just a t-shirt and jeans this morning. I should have checked the weather magnet my wife and I have on our fridge — 35 to 50 degrees all week. We just sent a down payment check to a dog breeder in Mystic, Conn. Fido’s first trick will be to fetch the newspaper.

I wonder what else I could make him fetch? Dogs were originally domesticated to do work for us, right?

• I grew up in the 80s, when Karate was all the rage. Karate, and spandex, somehow. Tae Kwon Do soon followed.

Rumors were always circulating among us kids about so-and-so’s cousin being a black belt. And how he had beaten up 12 kids at once who tried to jump him at the Sons of Italy Feast. Usually these kids were so much older than us that no one had the means to confirm any of these rumors us 10-year-olds started about them. I suspect there wasn’t a single kid or teenager who was a black belt in Rosedale, Queens in the 1980s.

But I can say with certainty there’s one on the North Fork.

If you haven’t checked out the slide show of 8-year-old Billy Donahue of Greenport taking his black belt test in Aquebogue, do so now. My favorite is a shot of Billy jumping over three kids while splitting a piece of wood with a drop kick. No one better try to jump this kid at the Jamesport fireman’s fair.

• There are still a lot of questions to be answered surrounding the surprising move by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy to not seek a third-term this November amid a fundraising probe by District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office.

Mr. Spota asserted in a prepared statement that his government corruption bureau — during a 16-month probe — turned up no evidence that Mr. Levy personally profited from “serious issues regarding fundraising and the manner in which it was conducted.”

But no details were provided as to what serious issues. The statement later reads: “The investigation will continue with respect to the conduct of others.”

We suspect details will be scant until the rest of these “others” get their issues resolved.

And since the DA is involved, that likely will mean criminal charges.

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