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State-Mandated Tution Payments May Cause Budget Headaches

Northport schools must pay 20 percent of previously state-funded tuition for students attending schools for the disabled.

will face additional strain on their budget in the foreseeable future as Governor Cuomo demands districts pay for a portion of tuition to schools for the deaf, blind, and disabled.

At the N-EN Board of Education meeting on Monday, Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Molander discussed the new mandate, passed by the State last June. Effective for the 2011-2012 school year, the school must pay 20 percent of tuition for children attending Cleary School for the Deaf and the Henry Viscardi School.

In years past, said Molander, tuition to 4201 schools was entirely funded by the state. Now, the district must pay the tuitions upfront, a total of $395,000 last year, and will be reimbursed 80 percent by the state. The state has so far reimbursed the district $118,000 and the district must wait until the end of the state's budget year in March 2013, to receive the rest.

The board presented an action to transfer $100,606 to the general fund on Monday to pay for part of the tuition. Molander said that the interfund transfer was a result of last minute notification from the state on how the accounting was to be done, after the school budget was already drawn up. Trusttee Andrew Rapiejko called it "shuffling the cards in the middle of the game."

"At the end of this fiscal year (in June), we were notified by the state on how we were supposed to do the accounting for these particular schools," explained Molander, "and the state wants these schools accounted for in the special aid fund, so we now have to move the expenditure from the general fund into the special aid fund...This is something we will have to continue to budget for in our general fund as we do the 20 percent that the district supports the extended school year program with."

Trustee Julia Binger then commented that it basically amounted to an increase in the burden of unfunded state mandates.

"Right, it is increasing in the general fund budget," replied Molander. "Also something to consider, is that the governor has been trying to shift the financial burden for preschool classes from counties onto school districts," said Molander.

Do you think the school district should pay for tuition to 4201 schools? How about for preschool classes? Tell us in the comments below.

FYI September 12, 2012 at 06:11 PM
$79,000? Chump change for the board to extract from all the hidden extras in the current budget. What was the total for the administrative raises just granted?
Nick Folger September 12, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Exactly N'prtr. If this is considered a "headache", then what is managing a budget over $150 million? Why doesn't the Patch write about the district's overbudgeting for last year. What is it $8 or $9 million? Maybe more. That should cover the $79,000.
Leah Bush (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 07:51 PM
We did write about that, Nick. Here: http://northport.patch.com/articles/northport-superintendent-clarifies-reserves and here: http://northport.patch.com/articles/additional-1-97-million-in-northport-budget
FYI September 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
What was the dollar amount of the administrative raises just granted? Anyone have access to that information? Thanks.

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