District officials say changes to aid structure add more ’unknowns’

CAMPBELL | Campbell-Savona School District leaders are saying proposed changes to how school aid is calculated and structured make Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget even more unhelpful for budget planning.


“There are a lot of ‘unknowns’ at this point regarding these numbers since there have been changes to the methodology,” Superintendent Kathy Hagenbuch told The Leader.


She said the new approach would combine types of aid that were relatively fixed with others that can vary significantly from year to year.


“The governor is proposing consolidating BOCES aid, hardware, software, library and textbook aid into the foundation aid amount,” Hagenbuch said. “Foundation aid used to be a solid figure that we could count on receiving, while the expense driven aides fluctuate based on our final prior year expenses.”


That means, despite a boatload of numbers being released in the wake of Cuomo’s budget proposal, the district remains largely in the dark -- even before the inevitable changes as spending is negotiated with the Legislature.


“We will be looking to get some clarification if this new foundation aid amount will be adjusted based on our 19-20 final expenses or if it will be a concrete number,” Hagenbuch said. “It will take some time to compare and try to get some clarification on these numbers. There has not been any guidance issued yet.”


The board and administrators are still in full budget planning mode despite the lack of information -- that’s become the norm for districts throughout the state.


“There are still too many missing pieces,” Hagenbuch said.


Despite that, the process must continue in order to be ready to inform district residents in advance of a may budget vote.


“We will have a full budget presentation ready for our February [school board] meeting,” Hagenbuch said.


That meeting is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 24 in the high school’s multipurpose room. A budget workshop will be held just before the board’s March 16 meeting.