While many factors have the Smithtown Central School District facing 2013-14 budgeting difficulties, Superintendent Anthony Annunziato said the unexpected reduction in state aid is the biggest blow to date.
The district is budgeted to receive $37.7 million in state aid in 2013-14, compared to the actual amount Annunziato said Smithtown schools received for the 2012-13 school year of $38.3 million, resulting in a reduction of roughly $630,000.
The number the district actually received for the 2012-13 school year is different than the $37.5 million Annunziato said during his Jan. 22 budget presentation because he received the number after the meeting.
In a phone interview Friday, Annunziato said the district took the biggest hit when Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to reallocate state aid from some districts to others in his upcoming budget.
That reallocation of aid is evidenced in the reduction of high tax aid the district will receive. The Smithtown Central School District is scheduled to receive $580,203 in the 2012-14 school year. The district received $1.9 million in high tax aid in 2012-13.
“That money was used by the governor to shift aid from some districts to others,” Annunziato said. “Essentially what that caused us is a decrease in state aid when we were expecting an increase, and shifted it to other districts.”
The question the district faces now is how they will make up for the lost state aid and increase in expenditures, which is roughly $11.9 million.
“We were expecting an increase in state aid and what we’ve seen in a loss. Are we going to pierce the cap? Are we going to make reductions? I have to lay out the options to the board,” he said.
For the 2011-12 school year to save money the district suggested to make cuts to bussing, a suggestion that was voted into fruition during the budget vote. The vote was marred by controversy and eventually overturned by a second vote.
Annunziato said while everything that could be reduced to make up for the deficit will be examined, bussing cuts is not on his radar.
“At this point it’s not something I’m looking at but I’m not going to sit here and say that down the road [it won’t be] if we still face deficits,” he said. “We have to look at everything.”
Annunziato said the governor's proposed numbers are subject to change based on negotiations with members of the legislature, and if the state aid amount the district could receive increases by the April 1 soft deadline would go towards lowering the tax levy.
With no guaranteed increase, the superintendent is moving forward with the budget planning with the numbers the district has now.
“We don’t have too many options,” Annunziato said. “I’m already using more reserves than we’ve done in the past because we don’t have a choice, we’re looking at making reductions and prioritizing those reductions.
A budget hearing will be held Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Joseph M. Barton Building on New York Avenue.