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Paterson's letter warns schools of potential budget cuts next year

Gov. David Paterson wrote a letter on Tuesday, Nov. 25, to state school board presidents and superintendents to warn them that without mid-year cuts this year, next year's budget will likely face the chopping block instead.

Deeper reductions in education spending will now be required in next year's budget to close the State's budget gap, according to a written statement provided by the governor's office. "He is notifying them now to allow them to plan accordingly."

New York state faces a $47 billion budget deficit over the next four years, including at least $1.5 billion this year and $12.5 billion next year, according state officials.

Paterson wrote in the letter that the need to reduce state funding for school could have a silver lining for the education system.

"Perhaps this crisis presents an invaluable opportunity for us to improve the structure of our educational system and how it is financed. I welcome any suggestions you may have," Paterson wrote in the letter.

Paterson's recent mid-year proposal included cutting spending in education growth from a planned 9 percent increase, to a 5 percent increase and would have allowed most schools to receive some funding increase compared to last year, according to a written statement from his office.

However, the State Legislature did not take action at a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 18 to cut school funding mid-year.

"I know that the months and years ahead will be difficult. But I look forward to your help and cooperation in addressing our state's fiscal crisis. I know that together we can weather this storm and help get New York's fiscal house in order," the letter read.

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