A tale of two districts ...

GREENE – Governor David Paterson’s proposed state aid cuts put the burden of balancing the state’s gaping budget deficit on the backs of poor, rural school districts while giving wealthy districts a pass, according to one local superintendent.

“I’m willing to do our fair share to address the state’s fiscal crisis,” said Gary Smith, superintendent of the Greene Central School District. The problem, he said, is that wealthy districts aren’t expected to do the same.

On the surface, it looks like these wealthy districts are shouldering the burden as their state aid reduction percentages are in the double digits while local districts are slated to see cuts in the 3 percent range.

According to Smith, this is deceiving. For these wealthy districts, many of which are located downstate, state aid makes up only a small percent of their total budget.

Smith used East Williston in Nassau County as an example, pointing out the Long Island district’s $48.1 million budget for the current year, of which state aid makes up only 5.6 percent. Paterson’s proposal would reduce their state aid by 12.5 percent, or $337,758, which represents .7 percent of the district’s total budget.

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