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'High Tax Aid' Cuts Could Hit Local School Districts Hard

Springs slated for an increase in state aid, but numbers are still preliminary.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive budget calls for cutting "high tax aid" by close to a third, and East Hampton area school districts stand to suffer for it if the state Legislator signs off.

Across the entire state budget, the amount allocated for high tax aid, funding for school districts with high school property taxes, is being cut $50 million, bringing the total down to $154.7 million, and a greater portion of the aid will be directed to school districts with lower wealth and high property taxes.

While numbers are still preliminary, one school district — Springs — may see an increase, while the rest take a hit.

Springs

Springs School District is the only school in the Town of East Hampton that is slated to receive an increase in state aid.

According to the proposed figures, the district will receive $1,246,087 million in assistance next year, $189,822 more than the 2012-13 year — an increase of about 18 percent.

Some of the increase showing in the proposal may not be accurate.

Dominic Mucci, the district superintendent, cautioned that the budget revenue numbers from the state are just an estimate and that are often figures missing entirely.

For instance, the proposal budgets $96,451 under a line item labeled "high cost/excess cost" for 2013-14, but under the current school year, there is no amount listed.

A state aid figure that appears to be more accurate is that of "high tax." The district received $334,391 this year, and is proposed to receive $342,209 next year. "We seem to getting more relief for our community," Mucci said.

Springs is also slated to receive $87,100 for charter school transitional aid — a 100 percent increase, according to the governor's proposal. Mucci explained that the State's formula for calculating that type of aid is generated by district estimates of an increase in the number of students attending a charter school from year to year. "This past year (2011-12) our estimates indicated a significant increase in district students attending charter schools. That estimate is most likely the cause for initiating this increase in aid," he said.

Mucci said that Tom Primiano, the district business administrator, is in the process of reviewing the funding numbers with the state.

"The governor has proposed his budget and now the negotiations will begin with the Legislature and Senate," he said in an email. "Once that has been completed, we’ll have a more realistic number to include in our budget."

Amagansett

Amagansett School District will have to live with 10.3 percent less, or 11.45 percent without building aid being factored in, if the state's proposed budget stands.

Under the proposal, the district will receive $31,404 less than the 2012-13 budget for a total of $274,699 this coming school year.

Amagansett is budgeted to lose $35,000 in high tax aid, for a total of $15,000.

East Hampton

The East Hampton School District is looking at a 3.1 percent decrease in regular aid, or 3.4 percent drop when building aid is taken out of the equation.

The district is slated to receive $2,436,031 in state aid in 2013-14, $77,769 less than it did for the 2012-13 school year.

Again, the biggest hit area is the high tax category with the district standing to lose about $100,577, for a total of $43,104. The district is recouping some funding in categories like BOCES and special services, which is increasing by $6,115 for a total of $253,675.

Montauk

In Montauk, state aid is set to decrease 9 percent, or $64,991. While "high tax" is decreasing significantly from $169,986 to $50,995, the district will see an increase in its charter school transitional aid from $25,007 to $43,762.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor School District is currently slated to see a 9.2 percent drop in regular aid — but a steeper drop of 10.3 percent when building aid is taken out of the mix.

In total, the district stands to receive $131,896 less than the 2012-13 school year. The new aid package proposed is $1,308,882.

The district is taking the biggest hit when it comes to the category of high tax aid, which is proposed to drop from $165,430 to $49,629.

But a note in the governor's proposed budget states that Sag Harbor's aid was established based on incomplete data, so the number may change when the data is received.

Wainscott

Wainscott, the smallest school district in the Town of East Hampton, does not receive any state aid.

Preliator January 29, 2013 at 08:32 PM
This is what happens when you become reliant on state aid. It is like crack, you get hooked.
Bonac Bub January 30, 2013 at 12:55 AM
East Hampton will only see a 1.55% decrease, because they will be able to recoup that loss from what they charge the feeder districts. They only pay 50% of their school budget, so it does not matter to them.
Jerry S January 30, 2013 at 04:13 AM
Too bad not see see full funding coming our way. The school boards could recommend increasing our school taxes a painless 5% and that would easily compensate for the loss in state aid.
MARTIN DREW January 30, 2013 at 06:27 AM
Jerry S - WTF ! In these economic times are you kidding me? It's time to do more with less ... According to Jerry we are the crack dealer$.. Jerry .. Please don't run for a School board .. We need Fiscally re$on$ible leader$ .. Mucci - clean up School Street ; Springs school staff has become a embarrassment .. Street NEVER looked like it does ... Shame on YOU if YOU don't get YOUR STAFF on School property ; properly parked ; 30 cars on street ; 30 empty spaces on campus at ANY given time .. Tax payers made appropriate parking ! USE IT! Teachers are NOT above the law .. Read the signs ... Move em or get towed ! TOEH YOU hearing it?
Preliator January 30, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Yes, more taxes, always the answer.
Lady L January 30, 2013 at 05:18 PM
I am amazed that there is actually a call for higher taxes. Springs School is causing the astronomical tax rates to chase out locals. Amagansett School is more like a private school for about 110 kids at over $34K per child. that school should send them to another school and close down the building to save over $4million a year. Can't the parents and teachers see we can no longer afford their schools at this rate? Yes, I hear the screams about closing Amagansett School, it has a lot of history, but seriously, how can we continue to sustain the high tax rate?
Bonac Bub January 30, 2013 at 08:11 PM
LadyL- Springs School is not causing the tax rates, aside from the fact that they are actually open. Springs School has the lowest cost per student on the East End. They are barely getting by now with what they have. It is amazing what they are doing with what little they have compared to other districts. The reason the tax rate is so high in Springs is because the town zoning years ago allowed little commercial zoning, and chopped up Springs into small house lots. That worked for a while when most of Clearwater was summer cottages only, but that has changed to say the least. Amagansett is it's own little fiefdom. $34K per kid? It's more like $70+K per kid. And Amagansett does not have a high tax rate because of all the commercial and oceanfront property. Even at t$70+K per kid, it is cheap for taxpayers there. And the district does not care about surrounding districts problems. They did not sign on with all the other surrounding districts for the consolidation and cost savings study. They even have their meetings at 7:30am in the morning. That sure is a convenient time for parents and taxpayers to attend.
Lady L January 30, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Good points Bonac Bob, but I've also learned that the ESL problems increase the cost of running the school due, in part, to over occupancy of rental homes, and pensions need to be contributory (lots of schools and state governments call for 50-50 toward the pension, health care contributions should increase, etc. The property tax price per square foot in Springs is higher than in Amagansett. When schools in the midwest can graduate kids for $2400 per, something is wrong here. As a resident of Amagansett, I cannot afford the $34K per child, since something like 74% of the budget is for schools. My property tax went up several hundred dollars again, as I'm sure just about everyone elses did. OUCH!

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