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Fiscal Cliff Would Lead to Major Cuts For New York Schools

4:42 PM, Dec 14, 2012   |    comments
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By Jessica Bakeman, Albany Bureau

ALBANY -- New York schools would lose $164 million in federal funding for the 2013-14 school year if Congress does not find compromise on the nation's looming "fiscal cliff," according to a state School Boards Association analysis.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., much reach a deal by the end of the year to avoid higher taxes and federal funding cuts.

"The consequences of lawmakers not reaching agreement on the fiscal cliff are severe for students in New York schools, especially those in city school districts," Executive Director Timothy Kremer said in a statement.

School districts would lose an average of $243,000 in federal funding earmarked largely for educational programs serving students with disabilities and those in poverty. The group's analysis is based on across-the-board cuts in federal programs - known as sequestration - that the White House estimates to be 8.2 percent, according to a news release.

New York's "Big 5? districts would receive the largest cuts: $95.1 million to New York City, $4.1 million to Buffalo, $3.4 million to Rochester and $1.6 million each to Syracuse and Yonkers.

School districts in western New York, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley would lose an average of $175,000, $110,000 and $139,000, respectively.

Schools in the North Country and Southern Tier would face the largest hurdles in raising funds to keep these programs in place. They would need to raise their property tax levies by nearly 1 percent on average just to make up for the lost federal aid and maintain current programs, the group said. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tax cap, which is in its second year, school districts must garner 60 percent of local voters' support in order to raise tax levies by more than 2 percent.

"The impact of the fiscal cliff is made far more pronounced by the state's property tax levy cap, which essentially limits the amount of revenue schools can raise locally," Kremer said in a statement. "For the sake of our students, President Obama and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., must prevent schools from becoming a casualty of the fiscal cliff."

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