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Croton Schools Take Cautious Approach to Proposed State Budget

Ed Fuhrman, superintendent of Croton-Harmon schools, is optimistic about the state aid allocations given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s school aid proposal, but he still thinks more needs to be done to help his school districts face its budget gaps.

Croton-Harmon School Superintendent Edward Fuhrman said there was nothing surprising about the approximately $4,155,647 state aid his district is allocated to receive in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.

Although Fuhrman said he is happy to receive the money, which represents an 8 percent increase from this year, it still doesn’t change the fact that his district is facing a budget gap of more than $800,000 heading into next year’s budget.

“We see some positives in this, but we won’t see things get better while the GAP Elimination Adjustment is still there,” Fuhrman said. “We are getting less than $10,000 in aid for general support and yet we have $800,000 missing if you take into account the GAP Elimination Adjustment.”

The GAP Elimination Adjustment is formula that was instituted in school aid to help close the state’s budget gap.

Fuhrman said his district is also waiting to see how much it can save through the governor’s pension stabilization proposal. The Governor's proposal would allow municipalities and school districts to lock into a fixed rate for pension payments during a 25 year period.

The locked in rates would be 12 percent for the state Employees’ Retirement System, 12.5 percent for the Teacher Retirement System, and 18.5 percent for the Police and Fire Retirement System. Without the option, school district and municipalities are looking at average rates of 20.9 percent for the Employee’s Retirement System, 16.5 percent for Teacher’s Retirement System, and 28.9 percent for the Police and Fire Retirement System.

But when rates drop, as expected with the creation of the Tier VI Law last year, school districts would still be locked into those rates.

“I think that is a conversation that we need to have with the board,” Fuhrman said. “It does have the potential of making our costs higher down the road, but we have the weight that against our ability to keep the budget reasonable.”

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