By CRAIG FREILICH
With some St. Lawrence County superintendents complaining their districts may soon be fiscally insolvent , State Sen. Joe Griffo says the issue of equitable funding for schools is important, but several factors will affect how the state deals with the issue.
Griffo, Republican from Rome, was in St. Lawrence County Thursday, listening to concerns of officials and constituents in Potsdam, Norwood and Massena.
Although his 47th Senate District does not include Canton, he stopped at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York there because he said he was interested in their work.
Griffo said he has had meetings with teachers and school administrators on the apparent inequity of the state’s complex school aid formula, which seems to be shortchanging poorer districts, including many in St. Lawrence County.
But how the state manages to deal with the problem will depend largely on what Gov. Andrew Cuomo says in his State of the State message next month and what developments come out of Washington in the near future, Griffo said.
“We’re going to have to wait for the governor’s State of the State message and the agenda he presents,” Griffo told NorthCountryNow.com.
“Beyond that, our assessment of what we can do will be based largely on two national issues: sequestration, and its impact on New York State if it happens, which acording to the comptroller will be significant, and post-Sandy help for New York State as the federal government moves on the president’s aid allocation.”
The sequestration is the holding back of federal funds if Congress’s walk up to the edge of the “fiscal cliff” doesn’t stop before they tumble over the edge and the consequences they agreed upon last year go into effect, including cutting allocations to every federal program.
The funding the federal government can give New York to help cover the expenses of Hurricane Sandy will also play a large part in the overall spending picture that will emerge from Albany at budget time next spring.
“All of these have to be evaluated. Before we make those decisions on what to do and how, we have to determine the impact of those measures.
“But we have to address the school aid formula issue fairly and equitably.”
Griffo’s district includes several towns from the northeast corner down through the middle of St. Lawrence County, including Massena and Potsdam, plus Lewis and Oneida counties.