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Cleveland Hill still behind in funds

Although Cleveland Hill schools are among the districts receiving a potential state funding increase according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s budget proposal for 2014-15, School Superintendent Jon MacSwan noted that the schools are still suffering from the statewide cuts enacted several years ago.

The governor’s budget proposes about $9.5 million for Cleveland Hill, which is an increase of about $156,000 over this year, representing a 3 percent increase over what the State Legislature approved for 2013-14. However, the district’s overall funding is still 8.73 percent less than it received during the 2008-09 school year.

“The bottom line is that we are getting more, but significantly less than what we would have, had the aid (formula) run out the way it was projected,” the superintendent said.

MacSwan noted that while Cuomo proposed an overall state increase of 3.83 percent for education, only 2.9 percent of that is earmarked for regular district funding throughout the state. Even that figure is variable depending on the district, as each one receives a different amount based on a formula. When the state went through a fiscal crisis four years ago, it began eliminating funding for schools while maintaining its formulas, calling the cuts a gap elimination adjustment.

While the state is trying to lessen the impact of its funding gaps, MacSwan explained it’s not nearly enough to make up for the $1.3 million in lost revenue for Cleveland Hill. Business Manager Dennis Corsaro compared the $156,000 jump in aid to the anticipated $160,000 in additional health care expenses next year.

“It’s a reduction of the reduction,” MacSwan said of the state aid.

“It doesn’t even keep up with the costs of our contributions to health insurance, and that’s one line item.”

The district also presented its preliminary budgets for athletics and extracurricular activities. Athletic Director Jason Przybysz requested a total budget of about $229,000 over this year’s $211,618, explaining that the figure is still below the 2010-11 athletic budget.

Forty-one percent of middle school students are involved in athletics, as are 45 percent of high school students, playing 17 girls’ sports and 13 boys’ sports.