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Why do school state aid runs look like they're from the 80s? Because they are.

NYSED state aid runs
The Department of Education says the program it uses to tally state aid runs is reaching its useful life.

If you've ever tried to track down state aid numbers for a school district in the hours after the governor releases his budget, you might wonder why the report looks like its was created in the 1980s.

It's because it was -- or at least the computer program the state Department of Education uses to tally up exactly how much money each district would get.

The reports are a go-to source of information for superintendents and legislators to understand exactly how they would be impacted by a state budget proposal.

"It was great when I was a legislator because this process was there," Regent James R. Tallon Jr. told his colleagues this month. "The problem is, it's the same computer that we were using when I was there."

Tallon, who served in the state Assembly for 19 years, began his tenure there in 1975. The computer program, written in the programming language COBOL and running on a Unisys mainframe, is "reaching the limits of its useful life," according to the Board of Regent's budget request. The board has requested $2 million for a new system that could create state aid models based on funding formulas.

Tallon, at the February Board of Regents meeting, worried what would happen if it suddenly went down when the Department of Education was under pressure to crunch all those numbers. "This is just the question: Who's going to put the $2 million bucks on the table?" Tallon wondered.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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