March 25, 2014
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – Without sufficient school aid in this year’s education budget, another year of classroom cuts are inevitable and will have destructive and irreversible impacts on students, said a group of education officials, superintendents and advocates.
“This budget fails the children and the future of New York,” said Schenectady City School District Superintendent Laurence Spring. “By perpetuating a systematic starving of school districts, the Governor and the Legislature put the future of hundreds of thousands of children at great risk. In Schenectady, we are being forced to make choices between mandated programs like technology and non-mandated programs like kindergarten and remedial reading.”
The Alliance for Quality Education’s Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari said that the basic needs of students are being ignored, especially K-12 funding.
“This is the moment when egos need to be put aside and the real needs of students need to be addressed,” said Ansari. “The fate of not only the future of New York’s students are at stake, but if public education continues to be defunded, the very foundation of New York will be in jeopardy.”
The current agreement between the Governor and legislative leaders would only increase school aid by $840 million this year, which falls well short of the $1.3 billion that the New York State Board of Regents advised would stop schools from having to make cuts.
“The Governor’s idea of an education policy debate is to attack public school advocates,” said Bill Samuels, founder of New Roosevelt Institute and co-founder of Effective NY. “That’s a shame because there’s never been a more important time than now to focus on the quality of education in the public schools that educate 97 percent of New York students.”
For the last five years, school districts across the state have been making efficiencies and cutting back on resources, including the elimination of 35,000 teachers and other educators statewide. Despite a steady increase in costs, many school districts are operating on less aid than in 2009 due to years of insufficient state funding according to the Alliance for Quality Education.