Thursday, February 27, 2014

Making the Rounds

We're making the rounds of state representatives' town hall meetings, squawking as ever about eliminating the GEA.

I also managed to get our agenda included in the County Dems packet:

Advocating for Our Schools in State Budget Season

1. ELIMINATE THE GEA The Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) was established in 2010 to help the state close its budget deficit. It spread the funding shortfall around all school districts through a GEA reduction to foundation aid due to schools. Since 2010, Dryden Central Schools have lost $11 million that was promised to them by the new school finance formula. Trumansburg has lost $7 million. Ithaca has lost $17 million. The governor’s 2014-15 budget does nothing but lessen the cut; it does not come close to restoring funds. Districts get less state aid today than they got in 2008. Most in this region have used up substantial reserves to stay afloat.


New York State ranks in the mid-forties among all states when it comes to fairness in distributing dollars to districts. The funding of schools is regressive. Wealthy communities receive a level of state aid that is disproportionate in terms of need. Yes, the poorest school in NYS receives 8 times the aid of the richest. However, the richest school is 14 times wealthier than the poorest school. The inequity continues. The schools won the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in 2003, but the new Foundation Aid Formula has never been fully implemented. The state has been out of compliance ever since. Aid distribution must align with a community’s actual ability to support its schools—it must take poverty and local taxation into account. The governor’s budget simply tightens the tax cap, ensuring that districts cannot make up the difference with local dollars, even if they have the money.


Legislators like to make laws. It’s part of their job. Every year, they make more and more laws to guide schools in their daily operations. Of the 151 mandates that offer the greatest challenges to school districts in cost and time, 69 percent are entirely unfunded. Districts must pay for them either by raising local taxes or by cutting programs or personnel. Well-intentioned mandates threaten non-mandated, high-priority programs and services in local school districts. The governor created a Mandate Relief Council that met several times in 2012, issued two reports, and solved, really, nothing at all.


All figures from Statewide School Finance Consortium and CNYSBA.

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