The Rome school district’s total state financial aid would rise by 1.87% and its core foundation aid category would go up by 2.75%, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2020-21 state budget that was announced Tuesday.
The percentage increase in Rome’s total aid was the fourth smallest among Oneida County’s 15 public school districts as presented in Cuomo’s plan.
State aid is the largest revenue source for the Rome district, accounting for over 60% of total revenues in its annual budgets.
Its current 2019-20 budget is $116.69 million, and the Board of Education this week is beginning a review of a proposed 2020-21 district budget.
The district’s total aid for 2020-21 as proposed in Cuomo’s plan would be about $76.81 million. Within that total, the Rome district’s foundation aid category would rise to $59.189 million compared to $57.599 million in 2019-20, which would equate to a 2.75% increase based on state data.
It typically comprises the largest segment of school districts’ aid, and Rome district Superintendent Peter C. Blake has called it the most important number for communities regarding the state funding.
Rome school board President Stephen P. Hampe said today he would wait until the board's next meeting when budget details are fully explored, before commenting on Cuomo's state aid proposal for Rome.
The annual budget proposals by Cuomo typically are revised by state legislators during reviews prior to a final state budget being approved.
The 2020-21 state budget would be for a new state fiscal year that begins April 1. Meanwhile, the new 2020-21 fiscal year for local school district budgets would begin July 1.
Statewide, Cuomo is proposing a $826 million increase in school aid for a new total of $28.5 billion, reflecting an approximately 3% increase. Among mixed reactions from educators at the statewide level:
• New York State United Teachers is calling for a $2.1 billion increase in state aid for 2020-21, which would include the first installment of a three-year phase-in of over $3.4 billion in foundation aid that NYSUT says is owed to over 400 school districts based on aid formulas that have not been followed.
“The time has has come for New York to fund our future. That means paying school districts what they are owed....,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.
• New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider said Cuomo's proposed $826 million school aid increase "represents a starting point for negotiations with the state Legislature, though the proposal represents less than half of the estimated $2 billion school districts need to maintain educational programs and expand learning opportunities."
He added "we await further details and timing on the governor’s proposed restructuring of the way school aid is distributed. The current foundation aid formula should be updated to measure factors such as poverty more accurately, but fully funding foundation aid at the levels intended when the formula was first enacted in 2007 would go a long way toward accomplishing the governor’s objective" of ensuring that districts receive adequate state aid.
• State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and interim state Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said "we look forward to reviewing the details of the executive budget and the proposed changes to the foundation aid formula." They added "while we agree that additional funding for high-need districts should be a priority, we need to ensure all districts have adequate resources...."