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GEA’s End a Priority as 2016-17 Budget Proposal Takes Shape
March 15, 2016
Full restoration of state aid funds withheld from Queensbury Union Free School District through the Gap Elimination Adjustment would fill most of a $900,000 hole in budget projections for 2016-17. That hole, or gap between projected expenses and revenue, was shared during budget workshop presentations in February and March. It now has district leaders continuing to press Albany for an immediate end to the GEA.
Ending the GEA by 2016-17 was among the Queensbury Board of Education’s advocacy priorities this year. (Find all four advocacy priorities here) In contrast, the governor’s executive budget proposal, delivered in January, would end the GEA in two school years. For Queensbury, that would mean receiving less than 34 percent of its GEA funds next year; a far cry from the 100 percent, full restoration for which school advocates have called.
“His proposal was certainly disappointing,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley, who has spoken with numerous legislators and the Board of Regents on the subject of the GEA.
“Our local representatives have long voiced their support for ending the GEA," said Huntley. In fact, the Assembly and Senate budgets released this past week both called for an end to the GEA next year. "We are cautiously optimistic that relief, and full restoration, may be in sight."
In the meantime, the Board of Education is continuing to examine and discuss a variety of factors that will shape their eventual proposal for a 2016-17 school budget. Some of those factors include:
- The district’s history of being among the most cost-effective in upstate, according to rankings by the Albany Business Review and Buffalo Business First publications;
- A desire to remain within the district’s tax levy limit or “tax cap” and
- State aid revenues that aren’t keeping pace with mandated and contractual expenses.
Addressing that last factor, known as a structural shortfall, is a priority for new Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Whittemore.
“We want to maintain and enhance our programs and manage our tax levy growth in a way that ensures the long-term financial health of this district and the community,” said Whittemore.
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