May 23, 2011
By Stephanie West
Throughout New York State the impact of the $1.3 billion cut to public schools is devastating. Besides teacher reductions, services are being trimmed in almost every category as guidance counselors, librarians and aides. Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers are slated to lose more than 700 positions. School districts such as Averill Park (Capital Region) and Greece (Finger Lakes) are cutting arts and music. School districts are increasing class sizes. Yonkers is eliminating its Pre Kindergarten and rolling Kindergarten back to half day. Numerous school districts are cutting important programs as sports and the Gifted and Talented programs.
Parents across the state are urging legislators to extend the Millionaires’ Tax and restore funding to public schools. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman (Denny) Farrell have introduced Millionaires’ Tax legislation that would set aside funds for education as well as Senator Tony Avella. “As a result of Governor Cuomo’s massive school cuts, thousands of teachers are being removed from the classroom, schools are closing, there are cuts to pre-kindergarten, arts, sports, music, career education and college prep electives. No longer can Governor Cuomo say that $1.3 billion in cuts have no impact on students. There remains a better option, the state needs keep the Millionaires’ Tax on the books and invest this money into education,” said Billy Easton, Alliance for Quality Education, Executive Director.
“The public and their elected representatives need to be reminded that severe budget cuts have severe consequences,” said NYSUT Director of Legislation, Stephen Allinger, “that is the purpose of these events -that, and to point out that there are still legislative alternatives to the devastation that these cuts will have.”
“This is Governor Cuomo’s first year in office, but it’s not the first tough year for school budgets. Next year, more than 85 percent of our districts will be getting less help from the state than they did three years ago. School district leaders have been trying to hold down tax increases and avoid hurting opportunities for students. But after three years of state aid cuts and freezes, that is just no longer possible for most districts,” said Bob Lowry, New York State Counsel of School Superintendents, Deputy Director.