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Brady projecting flat state aid revenues

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POTSDAM - Superintendent Patrick H. Brady is currently projecting flat state aid revenue for 2012-13, noting he’ll know more in next month when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo releases his draft budget plan.

“We’ll know more in January,” he said, adding the deadline for the governor’s proposal is Jan. 22.

Mr. Brady said from what he’s heard the state was looking at a $1 billion budget gap and that was before Superstorm Sandy.

“Superstorm Sandy could double that,” he said, adding that’s leaving superintendents wondering what their state aid picture is going to look like.

“The state continues to project a 3.5 percent increase,” he said, adding such an increase is equal to $712 million, but with the impact of Sandy not yet fully known that number is expected to drop.

“It is expected that with Superstorm Sandy and lower revenues coming in that the projected increase would drop to 3 percent,” he said, explaining that would decrease the pool of additional money to $610 million, much of which is already spoken for through reimbursement aid and the governor’s competitive grant program.

The question then turns to equitable distribution of whatever additional money remains. Mr. Brady said New York state ranks at the bottom of equitable distribution of state aid, despite spending more money per pupil on education than any other state.

“The Campaign for Fiscal Equity is considering another lawsuit unless there is more equity brought to funding,” Mr. Brady said, noting the state awards per pupil aid to every school in the state, regardless of whether the school is in need of the funds.

“More equitable funding could help schools like Potsdam and others,” he said.

Mr. Brady did have one piece of good news for the board.

“The state remains on track to finish the year with a balanced budget, so we’re not expecting to hear about any mid-year cuts, as we have in the past couple of years.”

Despite that lonely piece of good news, board member J. Patrick Turbett, who chairs the school board’s Finance Committee, said the board is looking at another difficult budget season.

“I would say the budget this year will not be without its challenges,” he said.

Mr. Brady said the district will continue working on the budget through the Finance Committee, as they begin meeting with various administrators and department heads.

“As we get the numbers, we’ll plug them in,” he said.

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