By Kellen M. Quigley

The 12 Cattaraugus County school districts are looking at an increase of $7.5 million to $207.5 million in the 2020-21 New York state budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 21. 

The Salamanca City Central School District would receive the second most of any district after Olean, potentially receiving $24.9 million, with the largest increase of about $2.13 million.

Meanwhile, the Ellicottville Central School District once again would receive the smallest amount of state aid of any district in the county, only $4.1 million, which is down 6.66% from last year.

“They always talk about re-doing the formulas, but nobody really knows what they do, or at least I don’t,” said Ellicottville Superintendent Bob Miller. “I wish they revisit them in a way that doesn’t continue to punish Ellicottville.”

Although Ellicottville is a resort town with high property values for the village and businesses, including the two ski resorts, Miller said the school district has a very low tax rate, which creates a perfect storm in lack of outside funding and ability to raise funds through taxes.

“You go down in aid and it’s tough to do everything you want to do for the kids and provide that superior education that we’re known for,” he added.

For 2019’s budget, Miller said he was told Ellicottville received the minimum amount of aid allowed by state law.

This year, Miller said some of the aid categories the district uses when planning its budget, such as BOCES aid or textbook aid, is gone, making it difficult to plan what the budget should be for 2020-21.

“We don’t know exactly where we’re going to need it,” he said. “We’re going to need the money, but we’re trying to figure out where we need it.”

Before the budget is finalized, Miller said working with local state officials State Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio is paramount.

“We are meeting this week regionally from our Cattaraugus-Allegany school districts … to provide some information and evidence and present our story as to why these aid categories need to keep pace with the conference board’s requests,” Breidenstein said.

“I’m really hoping our elected officials are really looking at what’s going on and looking to give us all the support they can,” Miller said. “I don’t think people were prepared for it to come out this way.”

Cattaraugus County school districts, proposed budgets and percent increases (or decreases), based on total aid, follow: 

Allegany-Limestone — $16.2 million, down 1.09%. 

Cattaraugus-Little Valley — $20 million, up 6.24%. 

Ellicottville — $4.1 million, down 6.66%.

Franklinville, $15.1 million, up 2.58%.

Gowanda — $19.6 million, up 3.21%.

Hinsdale — $7.8 million, up 6.82%.

Olean — $26.7 million, up 2.86%.

Pioneer — $40.8 million, up 3.13%.

Portville — $12.9 million, up 5.8%.

Randolph — $13.7 million, up 3.4%.

Salamanca — $24.9 million, up 8.59%.

West Valley — $4.9 million, up 4.68%.