Paterson’s budget proposal = $4.1M hit for Chenango schools

CHENANGO COUNTY – Local schools will face tough decisions in the coming year if Governor Paterson’s proposed cuts to state aid make it through to the final state budget, according to local superintendents.

“We’re an organization built upon personnel and student programming. We are heavily dependent upon state aid to run our programs,” said Gerard O’Sullivan, superintendent of the Norwich City School District.

The Executive Budget Proposal, unveiled by Governor David Paterson Tuesday, calls for $1.1 billion in cuts to schools across New York State as one of the measures necessary to eliminate the state’s $7.4 billion budget deficit. According to preliminary figures, the governor’s plan would mean a loss of more than $4.1 million in total state aid to Chenango’s nine school districts.

For Norwich, that could mean as much of a $825,225 reduction in aid for 2010-2011, a 3.88 percent decrease from what they are slated to receive in the current academic year.

“The Norwich CSD has traditionally run a very conservative and very tight budget, and cuts in state aid of this size are devastating,” O’Sullivan said. “We have made so much progress in academics and programming, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go backwards.”

At Unadilla Valley, Superintendent Bob Mackey said he is still trying to “fully digest” the governor’s proposal.

“He has a lot of mandate relief proposed and I need to determine its impact on us,” said Mackey, explaining that he sees this and the fact that many of the existing aid formulas stayed the same as victories on the “advocacy front.”

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