Riverhead schools to get $600K more state aid than expected

The Riverhead Central School District will see $593,309 more in state aid next school year than district officials had anticipated, according to figures provided by the state Legislature when compared with the governor’s proposed budget in February.

Statewide, the adopted state budget restored some $272 million in school aid from the $1.5 billion in cuts Governor Andrew Cuomo had proposed.

“We’re very grateful and thankful for the hard work of our legislators,” Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney said of the money. “That’s more than we were expecting.”

Although Ms. Carney said “reducing the tax levy will most likely be a priority,” she added that it was too soon to say exactly how the $593,309 would be used.

“At the next Board of Education meeting we’ll be discussing the impact of that legislation,” she said. “It’s up to the board.”

The Riverhead district was set to lose about $2.95 million from this school year’s $19 million aid package, which includes some federal stimulus money, that won’t be available next school year, according to Mr. Cuomo’s proposed budget released in February.

Riverhead officials have already held several public meetings in consideration of a proposed $110.3 million budget for the 2011-12 school year that eliminates 38 full-time positions, including 15 teachers. A final budget proposal goes to voters on May 17.

The draft budget (not yet accounting for the extra $593,309) proposes a spending increase of about 2 percent from the previous year but the tax levy — the amount of cash the district collects from taxpayers — would go up 5.7 percent for 2011-12, which is $5.2 million, due to the loss of state and federal aid.

The smaller Shoreham-Wading River School District learned last Thursday that $33,510 in aid cuts was being restored from Mr. Cuomo’s proposed budget, according to News-Review calculations from those same state-supplied figures.

The superintendent there, Harriet Copel, said that amount is not enough to make much of an impact.

“$33,510 is a very small portion of our total aid,” Dr. Copel explained. “Although it certainly is a welcome additional revenue.”

“We always would like to get more, but we take what we can get, and this is good,” she added.

Shoreham-Wading River, which is proposing a $60 million budget, will be losing $820,000 from this year’s aid package, according to the newspaper’s calculations.

The state has passed cuts in all areas of its budget in an attempt to reduce a $10 billion budget deficit.

In his proposed budget, Mr. Cuomo had called for cutting 11 percent worth of state aid to Nassau and Suffolk counties, New York City would have lost just under 8 percent with the state losing about 9.3 percent as a whole, officials said.

After weeks of outcry from Long Island superintendents and lawmakers alike, legislators were able to boost those numbers — and narrow the gap — to about 9 percent for L.I., 7 percent for NYC and just over 8 percent statewide.

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