DCS budget development is underway

District leaders have begun developing the 2021-22 school budget. DCS is planning for the potential impact of ongoing school aid cuts while maintaining the integrity of our school programs. 

Superintendent Dr. James Niedermeier and Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Rivenburg gave a presentation to the Board of Education during its regular meeting on Jan. 26. They outlined the upcoming budget process and district priorities. Superintendent Niedermeier’s report also shared information about how state budget problems are impacting the district’s revenue.

State budget provisions continue to contribute significant uncertainty for New York schools. State aid was withheld from districts earlier this year. While state officials have indicated to the news media these funds will be paid in full, there has not yet been an official statement to districts to confirm this. 

The executive budget proposal for next year keeps school aid flat by using federal stimulus funding that is not anticipated in future years. It also consolidates many expense-based aid categories into one block grant, which makes budget planning difficult for districts.

“Expense-based aid is predictable. By consolidating it into one category, districts can’t anticipate what might be coming their way,” Niedermeier said. 

School aid outlook in the executive budget proposal

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a 2021-22 executive budget proposal that is dependent on federal aid. School aid for next year will ultimately be shaped by the prospects of additional federal funding and Cuomo’s budget negotiations with the state Legislature.

Although federal aid makes up a significantly smaller portion of school funding in New York than state aid and local taxes, federal dollars play a significant role in Cuomo’s budget plan for next year. His proposal introduces the “Local District Funding Adjustment” – a cut in state aid that is fully offset by new, one-time federal funds. Niedermeier and Rivenburg were wary about the use of stimulus funding to fill a budget hole.

“While this solves a problem for the 2021-22 budget, it creates a cliff that we will still have to deal with in the future if the federal stimulus is discontinued,” Niedermeier said. 

The governor has proposed freezing the level of Foundation Aid, the largest state school aid category, for a second year in a row. 

“We understand that the entire state is experiencing a difficult economic situation,” Rivenburg said. “However, our expenditures continue to increase and we must plan our budget in a way that maintains our fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.”

DCS budget development calendar 

Budget planning will continue in the coming months according to the schedule below. Budget workshops are held during the Board of Education’s monthly meetings. Meetings are open to the public.

  • Feb. 9 Budget Workshop: Administrative, Athletics, Technology, Extra Curricular, and Tax Cap
  • Feb. 23 Budget Workshop: Transportation, Operations, Maintenance, and Tax Cap
  • March 9 Budget Workshop: Debt Service, Employee Benefits
  • March 23 Budget Workshop: Instructional, BOCES, Special Education, and State Aid
  • April 13: Board Adoption of Budget
  • May 4: Public Hearing
  • May 13: Meet the Candidates
  • May 18: Annual Budget Vote