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Mohon unveils ‘grim’ forecast

Tax cap limits spending, school aid decreases as costs increase

— “Over the past five years our budget has really started to crumble, the foundation is crumbling,” said Spring. “We have done a very good job as a district trying to balance what we need for our students and listening to our community, even with the difficult choices we have been trying to make.”

The district’s fiscal responsibility is ultimately its undoing, according to Spring.

“We’ve always tired to balance our students’ needs and be creative and develop programs, but make it affordable for our community,” she said. “Now that is working against us, because the tighter our budget is the more deep we have to cut into our programs.”

Districts similar to Mohonasen, said Spring, get “hit harder,” because the funding formula doesn’t fairly supply aid to school districts, with lower wealth districts feeling the most pain.

Spring added most people don’t have the choice to support higher school taxes even if they oppose cuts. The “wealth index ratio,” which measures property wealth, rings in at 0.64 for the district, she said. A ratio of 1.0 would be an average amount of property wealth.

“People are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. “They want schools to be good … but they just can’t afford it at this point.”

Since the district’s budget is “lean,” said Spring, there isn’t a lot of “padding” to help absorb reductions in state aid.

“Although Gov. Cuomo continues to describe schools as bloated and inefficient, that would not apply to us … it doesn’t describe us,” she said.

A cut in state aid isn’t the only bad news, because $800,000 the district received from the federal teacher jobs bill isn’t resurfacing. This funding helped ease cuts in the current year’s budget, said Spring.

“There are unprecedented reductions in state and federal aid we received,” she said. “There is no real, true mandate relief.

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