District schools facing state aid delays

Schools across New York State will receive 10 percent less than they were supposed to this December, in state aid, Gov. Paterson announced on Monday, Dec. 14. A total of $750 million will be withheld from schools across the state. That means that the school districts in Saratoga County will see their mid-year aid reduced by varying amounts, with Shenendehowa losing as much as $182,000 and Stillwater losing only about $3,000.

The schools, however, seem to be more concerned with state aid cuts still to come in January. That's when the STAR payments are due and these are usually large chunks of money that can total several million dollars.

The state aid reductions for this month, about $90,000, are actually just the tip of the iceberg and we're not as much concerned about them as about the next few months. We have enough money in reserve to handle cash flow needs right now, so while that money is certainly a concern, it's not as big a concern as what might happen next month, said Christy Multer, public relations for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District. "The governor is saying that other state aid payments may be delayed as well; next month we're due to receive about $4.9 million in STAR payments and he's talking about cutting something like 19 to 20 percent of that. That will be harder for us to accommodate and a much bigger hit. We don't know what we would do because it's still a hypothetical, but that's what is keeping them awake at night, not the $90,000."

STAR payments stand for School Tax Relief program and is when the state pays a portion of homeowners' school taxes. If large portions of this money are held back from districts come January, it will be an indication of just how difficult the 2010-11 budget year will be.

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