State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I/Ref-Oneonta) today announced senate approval of legislation he sponsors to aid the Schenevus Central District. Sen. Sewards bill (S.4957) authorizes advanced state aid payments and establishes a long-term plan to stabilize the school district’s finances.

“Schenevus has been hit with several fiscal punches all at once that are difficult for a small, rural school to absorb,” said Senator Seward. “The advanced state aid payment plan authorized through my legislation will stabilize the district’s finances and help school officials properly plan for a sound future – for students and taxpayers. Essentially, the bill addresses cash flow concerns, reduces the need to borrow, and thus, averts costly borrowing expenses.”

Schenevus Central School District is a small rural school with a total enrollment of approximately 360 students. Previous school administrators had depleted the fund balance and the district is currently operating with a $700,000 budget deficit. The state comptroller recently designated Schenevus as one of five school districts in the state facing “significant financial distress.”

“I commend Superintendent Theresa Carlin and the current board of education at Schenevus for taking diligent steps to address the district’s financial crisis while, at the same time, ensuring students receive the best education possible. After meeting with the superintendent and working with state officials, we have developed a plan that I believe will help meet the district’s needs,” Seward added.

Under Senator Seward’s bill, Schenevus will be eligible to receive an advance aid payment of up to $500,000 this year with the sum decreasing over the next thirty years to support the district’s educational program. District officials must also comply with strict reporting guidelines to certify they are following a prescribed plan to ensure sustained financial solvency.

“Ensuring our local schools receive their fair share of state aid is a leading priority of mine. The aid dollars translate to opportunities for our students, and tax relief for local property owners. When unforeseen circumstances arise, I have pressed for other measures like this special legislation to make certain that students are not shortchanged and that taxpayers are not left holding the bag,” Seward concluded.

The legislation must still be approved by the state assembly and signed by the governor to take effect.

Companion legislation (A.7499) has been introduced by Assemblyman Brian Miller and referred to the assembly education committee.