Senator Kemp Hannon
6th District New York

Dear Editor:

As our children settle into the school year, we, as a community, face unprecedented school aid cuts.  If these cuts continue, we will be faced with unfortunate and long-term effects that will have a devastating impact on our local economy and our schools.

Over the past two years, the enacted school aid agreements under the current administration have shifted aid from our districts, requiring that Nassau and Suffolk County schools share in a reduced percentage of any increase in State aid, and carry a higher percentage of any decrease.  This has amounted to a combined two year loss of approximately $59.1 million, using prior average percentages.

In the past, the structure of the state share of school aid for school districts has been apportioned on a regional basis.  Long Islandís share of any decrease or increase typically ranges between 13 and 14 percent.  For example, in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, the enacted school aid agreements provided Long Island with 14 percent of the share of the increase for the region Ė thereby, maintaining the traditional apportionment scheme.  In 2009-2010, the enacted school aid agreement departed from the traditional approach and only provided the region with 5.07 percent share of the increase.  This was less than half of the expected share of the increase.  Had Long Island received its typical share, based on the two previous years, the region would have received an additional $32 million.

To that end, in the 2010-2011 agreement, Long Islandís share of the decrease was 16 percent; three percent more than the region expected to bear.  Had Long Island received its typical share of the cut, Long Island would have received an additional $27.1 million. Thus, Long Island lost $32 million in its cut of the increase, in addition to the aforementioned $27.1 million loss, resulting in a total two year loss of $59.1 million.

Our County should not be burdened with a disproportionate share of cuts, especially during these tough economic times. We already pay the second highest median real estate taxes in the nation. School aid cuts percolate throughout our community and affect everyone. Critics fail to cite the adverse long term effects on our districts that these cuts will have.  They also fail to note that Long Island educates 17 percent of the students in the State Ė even in the pre-cut environment; we only received 13 to14 percent of the increase in state aid, less than 3 to 4 percent of our relative percentage of students educated.

With upcoming funding opportunities including the distribution of monies from the federal Education Jobs Program and Race to the Top, in addition to further school aid agreements for 2011-2012, Albany must re-establish regional balance in school aid funding and ensure that there is equitable treatment for all school districts.

Kemp Hannon

Senator, 6th District- New York         

District Office
595 Stewart Avenue, Suite 540
Garden City, NY 11530
Albany Office
420 State Capitol Bldg.
Albany, NY 12247