In 2010, former Governor Paterson imposed the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) on schools as a part of his plan to address New York State’s budget crisis. I understand that this was a necessary step to eliminate New York State’s budget gap. It is four years later, New York State is projecting a surplus, and Governor Cuomo is proposing that New York continue to impose the GEA on schools.
What is the GEA and how does it work? New York State has a formula that uses enrollment, property wealth, resident income, and special education enrollment to determine how much aid each school district should receive. The state says Gananda deserved $10,574,395 in 2013-14. Because the state needed to balance its budget, that number was reduced to $9,724,573.The difference - $849,822 - that we did not receive is our GEA. Over the past four years, Gananda has lost $4,561,882 in state aid because of the GEA.
To further complicate the issue, Governor Cuomo has proposed a number of new and additional programs that will increase educational spending. The challenge I offer is: why would we spend money on new programs when existing core programs are not fully supported? Schools will be forced to add preschool and install new technologies while considering whether to increase class sizes, moved to half day kindergarten, reduce extracurricular programs and/or increase taxes. Does it make sense to build an addition when the roof is leaking?
For the 2014-15 school year, even though there is no budget gap, the Governor is proposing that we lose $722,667 to the GEA. I ask that our community act together by asking our representatives to fund the programs we have and eliminate the GEA. You can do this by writing letters and/or calling Senator Nozzolio, Assemblyman Oaks and Governor Cuomo. Sample letters and phone scripts can be found at www.gananda.org by selecting the advocacy button on the left.
The New York State budget gap is gone, the Gap Elimination Adjustment should be gone too, let’s eliminate the GEA.
Shawn Van Scoy
Superintendent, Gananda CSD