Wednesday, March 21, 2007

L.I. Schools Speak Out Against Spitzer’s Education Plan


This is just a taste of what the upcoming state aid to education budget battle is shaping up to be...........people on the Island don't want to hear about New York
City.and equity.....residents of new york city. pay extremely low property taxes compared to nassau and suffolk counties..........maybe it is time for those school disticts mentioned below to change their way of doing business...and try to centralize things bring costs down...but that is another sacred cow nobody is willing to wonder scores of people are moving out of new york state to find more affordable communities to live in.....will anything every change??? andy

In the wake of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposed school budget cuts, dozens of LI school districts came together on Monday morning to voice their disapproval of how the plan’s funding for education aid will be distributed, and more districts will be joining the campaign.

Citing state funding inequity for LI public education and the elimination of important aid categories, representatives from Suffolk and Nassau schools sent a strong message to Spitzer on Monday at a press conference in Holbrook.

“We are trying to unite and demand equity and fairness in state funding,” says coalition spokesperson Karen Lessler, President of the Middle Country Board of Education. “Long Island has 17% of New York State’s students, and yet we will be receiving only 13% in state aid. Also, the state should not be able to impose mandates without funding them.”

Spitzer maintains that the proposed education state aid package is adequate for all school districts.

“We believe we have a strong budget,” says Brad Maione, a spokesman for Spitzer. “Each district will receive an increase in funding."

In Spitzer’s January “Contract for Excellence” address, the governor outlined his goals for the budget plan, including the integration of a “foundation formula,” a more straightforward and general system for how much education aid various school districts will be eligible to receive.

“This formula will distribute educational funding based on the needs of our children, not the needs of our politicians,” Spitzer said in the address. “We don’t need 65 different formulas to allocate money, each one more complicated than the next.”

Dr. Shelley Saffer, the superintendent of the Comsewogue School District, argues that with the flat lining of 113 of Long Island’s 124 public schools and the cutting down of aid formulas, the plan will hurt most LI schools.

“Spitzer said that every school district will receive a three percent increase in funding, but that’s not true for our school district,” Saffer says. “By collapsing aid formulas, Spitzer’s proposed plan gets rid of a huge number of aid categories that help most Long Island school districts.”
The coalition, which currently consists of 29 schools, is growing in strength as an increasing number of schools are backing the movement.“Today’s press conference was a big success because more school districts are coming together and we’re all going to speak with one voice,” says Middle Country’s Lessler. “We’re not asking for anything that we aren’t entitled to.”

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