NORWICH – With a proposed New York State Executive Budget now on the table, the Norwich City School District is likely to see a 3.4 percent increase in state aid for the coming year, but school officials are being cautious in moving forward as the district is still reeling from $7.5 million in recent state aid cuts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2013-2014 budget calls for a 4.4 percent increase statewide in education, or $889 million. Should the proposed budget pass, the Norwich City School District is slated to receive more than $640,000 in education aid. Although NCSD administrators praise Cuomo’s efforts to relieve some of the financial burdens in public education, the aid increase is far from the $7.5 million in aid NCSD has lost since 2010.
“We have to take a long-term view. We have to see where we have been with state aid and how much we have lost in recent years and compare what we gain to that number,” explained NCSD Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan.
According to Deputy Superintendent Robert Wightman, state aid accounts for nearly two-thirds the district’s budget. He said NCSD is currently examining preliminary figures for the 2013-2014 school budget using numbers from the governor’s budget. “We’re not looking at this from a negative perspective,” he added, “but we would like to see some of what we have lost restored ... The trick is finding the right balance between a sound education and being fiscally conservative.”
The executive budget also calls for some other programs NCSD officials are weary of, including a state Bar Exam for teachers, extended learning time and a full-day pre-kindergarten program. Districts are not currently mandated to have a kindergarten program, so a mandated pre-kindergarten program may force NCSD to look at other alternatives for kindergarten, said O’Sullivan...