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Senator Farley’s bullet aid targets area schools

Supplemental aid allocated to address special needs of schools approved by State Senate

New York Senator Hugh T. Farley photoMARCH 16, 2012 - Several HFM BOCES school districts in New York State Senator Hugh T. Farley’s legislative district received good news this week in the shape of “bullet grants” aimed at relieving their fiscal pressure. The grants range in amount from $30,000 to $150,000, and are intended by the Senate to meet “exceptional needs.”

The following school districts were notified this week that each would receive the additional funds:

  • Broadalbin-Perth ($75,000)

  • Northville ($150,000)

  • Mayfield ($100,000)

  • Fonda-Fultonville ($30,000)

  • Canajoharie ($30,000)

Bullet aid is a long-standing state program that supplements foundation aid for schools. Funds are included in each state budget to meet special needs in school districts whose particular circumstances are not covered by the complexities of the state aid formula. Grants are requested by individual senators and approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

A spokesperson from Senator Farley’s office explained that the senator was aware of the budgetary struggles afflicting rural schools, particularly those in his district also waiting for the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to pay delinquent taxes. The bullet grants were provided as a measure of relief.

“Every district is very appreciative of the grant awards they received, and the work Senator Farley does on behalf of public education in the Senate,” HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel said. “But the underlying problems that plague public education funding haven’t been resolved.”

Most upstate school districts are struggling to prepare a budget for 2012-13 while dealing with frozen state aid and a new law that limits increases in the tax levy. As revenues decline and costs escalate dramatically, districts face the challenge of filling multimillion-dollar gaps in their budgets without decimating their academic programs.

Fonda-Fultonville Superintendent James Hoffman outlined the crisis in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo. He explained that the $2.7 million deficit his district faces for the coming year will require drastic cuts or elimination of programs such as kindergarten, sports, art, music, advanced foreign language, honors and college level programs in the high school, middle and high school bands, and more.

“We truly appreciate the grant from Senator Farley, perhaps more because it tells us that someone in Albany is aware of the situation facing public schools,” Dr. Hoffman said. “But the big issues remain unresolved. The money itself is just a band aid.”

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