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Port Chester Schools Receive Boost in State Aid

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District announced at their bimonthly Board of Education meeting on Wednesday that the district has received a small bump in state aid.

At an information forum devoted to the 2 percent property tax cap levy in late December , Port Chester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edward Kliszus said that preliminary figures calculated the 2012-2013 budget deficit to be approximately $3.37 million.

The figure has since been recalculated to $2.8 million after Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a new budget with increased state aid. According to those numbers, the increase in state aid to Port Chester is $739,405.

"I know there's a lot of rhetoric there," Superintendent of Business Maura McAward said. "But it's actually good news. But the fact of the matter is state aid went up."

Despite the good news, the district still categorizes the nearly $3 million deficit as "significant" and has stated in writing that even the cost of maintaining all existing educational programs is greater than the $1.22 million allotted by the 2 percent tax cap.

"It didn't go up enough," McAward said. "It's not going to impact and save the day, but at least it went up."

Both the board and the district have acknowledged that if the district is forced to fall under the tax cap the deficit will be made up by cuts in programs and personnel. However, the extent of the cuts will ultimately be determined by the amount of state aid afforded the district in the state's final budget.

"The legislation has taken the governor's proposed budget and is now reviewing it, massaging it and looking for feedback," McAward said. "I reiterate looking for feedback."

The feedback McAward is referring to is in the form of letters from the public. Kliszus spoke specifically about writing letters from the voters.

"If there is no feedback not much can change," Kliszus said.

McAward and Kliszus highlighted the board's Feb. 9 meeting as an important date, as the district will be presenting the preliminary budget. At this meeting the district will begin to look into specific ways to close the deficit.

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