Lakeview board still concerned about funds

By Eric Grosso

A school board member says it’s tough to get answers from state administrators.

CORTLAND — Voters passed a 3.15-mill levy last week, but Lake-view Board of Education members are still concerned that potential cuts on the federal and state levels may hit the district in the future.

Failed levies the last two years resulted in cuts in school busing, pay-to-play sports and cuts in the teaching staff. A 3.85-mill levy that would have brought in $1.05 million annually was narrowly defeated in November.

The failed levy in November was the seventh attempt at obtaining new money since 1999. The special election last week, resulting in the passage of a 3.15-mill levy, cost the district about $12,000.

Board members were hoping the 3.15-mill levy would pass in order to maintain current levels of staffing and funding. Without the passage of the levy, the district would have lost out on $890,000 it was getting annually from an expiring 3.23-mill emergency levy.

However, district legislation representative and board member Donna Zuga said future deficits could affect the district in 2010 because of changes in federal and state funding.

She said under Gov. Strickland’s recently proposed state budget, the district would not receive any increase in funds for the 2009-10 school year, while the district would actually get $127,304 less than it currently receives for the 2010-11 school year. Zuga said the amount is roughly 2 percent of the total state funding it receives.

She noted that getting answers from state administrators on the reasoning and formula used to determine the decrease has been complicated.

“It makes it very hard to do budgets and make any type of predictions,” she said.

She wants the district to make a long-term plan that includes a “worst case scenario” in terms of funding to be fully prepared.

She also noted funding levels could be impacted by the changes in the pending federal stimulus bill. She specifically cited the recent cut of $40 billion in education spending in the Senate version of the bill that could affect the funding district receives.

“Stay tuned,” she urged.

“We’re certainly not going to give up on obtaining funding, not going to give up on all the kids in the district,” said Zuga.

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