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Salamanca schools superintendent says aid may not be enough

SALAMANCA – Hoped-for increases in funding from the state and national governments may be “too little, and too late” to have much impact on the Salamanca City Central School District’s budget for the 2014-15 school year, according to School Superintendent Robert Breidenstein.

The final budget figures to be submitted to the public in a referendum won’t be ready for a couple of weeks, school administrators said.

Returning from his trip last week to the nation’s capital, Breidenstein, said good things are happening on the federal financial front, but concerns still exist on the state level.

And citing a rally and information session on the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment, held at Ellicottville Central School at the beginning of the month, Breidenstein added that movement in the budget plans in Albany have taken an approach to do away with the adjustment, but the plans offer too little, too late.

“This two-year plan is reaching a five-plus-year plan,” he said. “Districts around the state have tightened belts and made all the cuts possible. We have done what we have been told to do. It is time for Albany to do what they were elected to do,” he said.

In Washington, D.C., Breidenstein said he attended the Federally Impacted Schools Conference. The conference was four days of meetings and trainings for schools that are receiving federal impact aid. With Salamanca being situated on the Allegany Territory of the Seneca Nation of Indians, he said the advocacy of such lands is important to make sure funding and help come in as they should.

He said the $1.6 million Impact Aid received in 2013 may have a chance at growing by between 3 percent and 8 percent, based on the way the funding of the program works.

“The program is not funded annually,” he said. “It is a very competitive process that seeks budgetary funding to be consistent but the levels of that amount are not.”

Whether the district will be able to get more federal Impact Aid will not be known until later in the year, Breidenstein said. In the meantime, the district will be waiting for numbers from the state budget to determine the actual numbers of the school budget.

The budget for the next school year is expected to be about $27.1 million, according to Breidentstein and business manager Karen Magara.