State aid to VCSD a little light, future payments still uncertain 

NEW SCOTLAND — With over a third of state aid already in its coffers, the Voorheesville Central School District is prepared to weather a pandemic-induced loss of up to 20 percent on the remaining $4.1 million due to the district before the end of the school year. However, the state-set tax levy limit lingers as a potential problem.

During Voorheesville Board of Education’s Jan. 4 meeting, members received an update on the impact of the coronavirus on state education finances. 

State aid for the 2020-21 school year has yet to be finalized, it was noted.

Total state spending on education for the 2020-21 school year, about $27.4 billion, had been flat from the previous year, it was said during the Jan. 4 meeting, and that was only because $1.1 billion in federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act money had been used to backstop a $1.1 billion pandemic-related reduction in state aid.

The state’s mid-year budget update said $300 million in education payments had been withheld between April and September 2020.

Macri said during the meeting that Voorheesville could expect federal funding to be about four times the state’s $36,000 pandemic adjustment at $144,000. The federal money will “kind of make us whole,” he said.

About 25 percent of Voorheesville’s $26 million budget is state-funded. 

According to estimates provided this week by the district, Voorheesville is due $6.4 million in state aid for the 2020-21 school year, which is down about $200,000 from what was expected when the legislature passed its budget in March of last year.

As of Tuesday, the district had received about $2.25 million in state aid and was still due another $4.15 million.

In July 2020, the state’s Division of the Budget approved a 20-percent cut to some general school-aid payments. In September, Macri told The Enterprise that a recent general state-aid payment had been about $47,000 light. But since then, it was noted during the Jan. 4 meeting, the only other state aid withheld at Voorheesville has been transportation payouts, of about $120,000. 

In a worst-case scenario, if New York withheld 20 percent of the rest of state aid due to Voorheesville, Macri said on Jan. 4, “that would not be good for us,” but anything less than a 20-percent drop in aid, the district “could probably handle.”

In September, Macri told board members that an additional 1.4 percent of the district’s unappropriated fund balance, about $360,000, had been carried over with this year’s budget and can be used to help fill this year’s gap.

At the time, he also recommended that the board not fund several reserve funds, if it gets to that point. If the district didn’t pay into its reserve funds for capital projects, teacher and non-teacher retirements, and tax certiorari cases, Voorheesville would be able to offset a September 2020 $1.3 million deficit.

The district could be facing issues with its tax levy. Because of low-anticipated inflation — one of the factors the state uses to determine the allowable annual increase in the levy — the tax cap for the 2021-22 school year could be very low, or even negative.


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