State aid a concern as Owego-Apalachin budgeting begins

By Michelle Costanza

February 7, 2014 Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 7:27 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Should Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget proposal come to fruition, Owego-Apalachin is one of many school districts that could face struggles this year.

In a public forum held Thursday night, OA Superintendent Bill Russell laid out logistics as the 2014-15 school year budget season gets underway.

"Last year, they were really generous, this year not so much," Russell said of the state's educational funding contribution.

Under Cuomo's current proposal, Owego-Apalachin is slated to receive a $169,000 increase in state aid. That's less than one percent of the district's $42 million budget approved last May.

"It's tough and we'll hope the legislature is able to find a little bit of a better way for funding schools than what that proposal will do," said Russell.

The superintendent explained that the district has worked to keep taxpayers in mind, averaging just over one percent a year in the tax levy increase, which is close to half of the increase of the cost of living during that time.

"We are very mindful of our taxpayers and very serious about keeping our taxes under control, but we also don't want to be having a race to the bottom and seeing how much we can gut this school district -- that's not why we're here," said Russell at the public meeting.

State aid will be finalized in the coming months, but if the number is not modified, Russell said his district will have to do the hard work to continue the balancing act.

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