The Massapequa school district will receive about $660,000 in additional state aid, school officials said over the weekend.
Speaking at a rare Saturday meeting of the Board of Education, Deputy Superintendent Alan Adcock said that the extra money is coming from an increase in Gov. Cuomo's budget for a form of aid called the gap elimination adjustment.
"The gap that they're talking about is the New York state deficit," Adcock said.
"Basically with regard to education, New York state looks at all the 700 schools and says, 'What portion of the state's budget deficit must be absorbed by each individual district in New York State?'"
Adcock said the state then apportions money to the districts to make up for the state's shortfall. But this year the state is readjusting the amount of that shortfall.
"Previously under the governor's budget, our district was losing $4.3 million, in aid" Adcock said. "Under the legislative budget, the gap elimination adjustment has gone from a negative $4.3 million to a negative $3.6 million."
That leaves $660,000 in state aid, which Adcock said will likely go to reserves.
Specifically, the money is expected to go to a reserve fund to help the district if they have to take over tax certiorari refunds in cases where tax assessments are challenged.
The burden of being responsible for certiorari payments is being shifted from Nassau County to the school districts. Massapequa and other districts sued to stop the plan, but the suit was unsucessful. They are waiting to hear the results of an appeal.
"We are looking at setting up a reserve account for the tax challenges," Adcock said.
"The primary thing that's worrisome to us is the tax certiorari," Massapequa Superintendent Charles Sulc said. " We don't know what that liability is going to be and we have to have some way to pay for it."
Sulc said he felt that the extra money would be better set aside for the certiorari payments rather than to restore some of the staffing positions that have been eliminated in the budget, since the plan they already have in place doesn't eliminate any programs or significantly affect class sizes.
"There are liabilities that we have to address so we put a staffing plan in place that allows us to continue our program with reasonable tax sizes," Sulc said. " And now we have this tax certiorari exposure. How do we pay for it?"
Also at the meeting, Board President Maryanne Fisher asked Sulc to take another look at the budget's plan to restructure some administrative positions at
Under the plan, the school would eliminate several department chairs and the Director of Academic and College/Career Planning at Berner, while adding a new dean and an Executive Assistant.
"The whole thing affects the way the building's going to be run," Fisher said." Is it possible that we can look at it again and see if there's a different way of restructuring it and accomplishing the same thing in the end.
Sulc said he will take a look at the restructuring and report back at the Board's Thursday meeting. The board is also expected to adopt the budget on Thursday, while voting on the Nassau BOCES budget at a meeting Tuesday.
The district holds the yearly Saturday meeting to accommodate members of the community who can't attend weeknight budget meetings.