Understanding Our Estimated State Aid

Posted by Shelly O'Boyle on 1/23/2018 9:15:00 AM

WJTN recently reported the following information:

"Most Chautauqua County schools will benefit from Governor Cuomo's proposed 2018-19 budget.  In fact, all but three will see increases in their state aid if the budget is adopted as is...  

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell's office released school runs for the county late yesterday and the overall increase is nearly $9.5-million.  The runs show that Jamestown will get the biggest increase -- $4.1-million -- but, about $3-million of that will be for building and building reorganizational incentive funding.  The next biggest bump in aid goes to Dunkirk, which would get nearly $1.5-million more in 2018-19.  Bemus Point is next with another $937,000.  However, there are three districts who will see reductions, led by Frewsburg, which is seeing a $139,000 cut."

Though this information is accurate, it can cause unnecessary worry.  This blog post will attempt to explain where the Frewsburg Central School District stands right now.

Schools base their early budget calculations on the state aid runs generated from the Governor’s Executive Budget. At this time of year, these runs contain estimate amounts in several categories as follows:

Foundation Aid:  This is probably the aid that we, as a district, are most anxious to see, since it is the unknown number coming into our budget planning. Foundation aid is the largest and most important source of aid that supports our expenditures.  In an ideal world, foundation aid would equalize state aid based on a district’s wealth and student need.  In reality, this aid is calculated on a very involved formula that, most argue, does not properly equalize aid and does not account for the fact that it costs more to educate high need students.

Our estimated 2018-2019 aid run shows an increase of $111, 212 (1.6%).  In past years, once the NYS budget has been adopted, we have seen a larger increase in Foundation aid.   We are hopeful that this will be the case this year.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten Aid:  This is a set amount that has been allocated to educate the four year olds in our district.  This aid is the same every year.

BOCES Aid:  Every time we purchase a service from BOCES, this includes sending our students there, we receive 84% aid back the following year.  At this time of the year, we know that this number may fluctuate since we may purchase services in the second half of this school year that will not be reflected in our January estimate. This aid fluctuated by (-)$84,798.

High Cost Excess Cost Aid:  This aid is calculated by looking at the high need students in our district from the previous year and predicting that the students will be the same for the following year.  Obviously, high need students may move into or out of the district or current high need students may need more or less services causing this number to fluctuate.  Our amount fluctuated by (-)$4,610 on our aid run.

Private Excess Cost Aid:  This aid is calculated by the number of students attending private schools like Randolph Academy.   Again this number can fluctuate by students moving into and out of our district or requiring this type of service.  Our amount fluctuated by (+) $8,154.

Hardware & Technology, Software, Library, Textbook:  This aid is the amount that we get to purchase hardware, technology, software, library materials, and textbooks for our students.  This amount is dependent on student enrollment, so it also fluctuates. Our amount fluctuated by (+)$1,474.

Transportation Aid Inc Summer:  Transportation aid is based upon estimated approved transportation operating expenditure multiplied by a transportation aid ratio.  This estimated amount fluctuates because of the summer transportation.  Different summers bring about different numbers of students requiring services.  Our amount fluctuated by (+) $48,584.

Building + Bldg Reorg Incent:  This is aid based upon capital projects.  This is, by far, the biggest area of fluctuation since it is based upon the status of our capital projects.  The Frewsburg District will no longer receive aid on the capital project done in 1999.  In saying this, you have to understand that our district will no longer be paying principal or interest on this capital project, so the loss in this aid balances out the expenses that we will no longer have to  pay.  This aid fluctuated by (-)$219,216.  (You can see why I said that it is by far the biggest area of fluctuation.)

Summary Points:

  1. All of the fluctuations noted above resulted in a net decrease of our overall aid by -$139,200.  
  2. This decrease in estimated aid is not concerning, since our expenses will also be reduced as a result of not having to pay principal payments or interest on our 1999 capital project.
  3. At this point in the budget planning, we are interested in looking at the amount of Foundation Aid projected for our district.   At this time, our Foundation Aid has increased by $111,212 (1.6%).

Should you have any questions or wish further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me.