Cuomo Calls for End to Withholding Funds From School Boards

ALBANY -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an end to a policy that allowed the state to withhold a portion of school funding from local districts to prop up the state’s overall budget.

The Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has exacerbated the financial state of districts such as East Ramapo, dates back to the recession, when the state faced a $10 billion budget deficit. Then-Gov. David Paterson signed it into law in 2010 on a one-time basis, but lawmakers have kept it in place ever since.

The program is estimated to have resulted in $45 million less for the East Ramapo school district, which covers Monsey and New Square.

Its devastating impact on the district is “huge,” according to Aron Wieder, a Rockland legislator who is a former president of the East Ramapo school board. “It essentially killed the district.”

In recent years lawmakers have gradually reduced the amount withheld from local districts, and now the policy primarily affects rural and suburban districts more than high-need urban districts.

The Senate’s Republican majority said the policy is unfair and voted on Monday to eliminate it. With Cuomo now on board, the measure now goes to the Assembly.