Word on the street is that the Education bill has gone to print.
The bill cannot be voted on until late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
Word on the street is that the Education bill has gone to print.
The bill cannot be voted on until late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
Earlier this week, 37 rural and low-wealth districts across the Wayne County and Finger Lakes region in Western New York continued to spread that message, gathering together at the Geneseo Central School District Auditorium to advocate for equitable school funding. The event was sponsored by the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership
Over 500 parents, students, faculty, administrators, community members, local village and town officials as well as local legislators, learned how tax cuts are impacting their schools and learned what voters can do to help change the school tax cap.
Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium was the featured speaker again, discussing the importance of eliminating the GEA, providing adequate and equitable aid to education, and providing a meaningful measure of mandate relief to school districts.
Local administrators spoke of the devastating effect these cuts are having upon each of their school districts, while students also took to the stage, explaining why they feel the best chances of them getting a good education may have already passed them by.
This is third such event to take place since January. On January 31 in East Greenbush, thousands turned out to learn about equitable school funding, and on February 11 at Niskayuna High School, those same individuals came out to learn how to become better advocates for their schools. You can learn how to be a better advocate for your school by visiting our advocacy page here.
Click on the links below for full media coverage of the event.
An eye-raising article from yesterday’s Albany Times Union calls into question just how much money is actually being distributed through Governor Cuomo’s competitive grant program.
According to the article, only $17 million out of a possible $50 million in grant money was awarded to school districts this past year. Out of approximately 700 school districts in the New York, 38 applied for management efficiency grants, and 16 received a total of $7.1 million in grants. The school performance grant drew 74 applicants, but only $10.2 million was handed out to 23 districts, leaving some unsuccessful applicants wondering about New York’s commitment to reform.
In his 2011 State of the State address, when Gov. Cuomo introduced the competitive grant program, he cited the success competiton has had at the federal level.
“They’re doing it now in the area of education where they run (grant) competitions, and for example, when they fund a state government, if the state government wants to qualify for the federal money they have to win the competition. We know in New York how effective those competitions were in making the state government actually move and pass a piece of legislation authorizing charter schools so we could qualify for the Race to the Top money. Competition works….If there is a school district that does stellar work, let them compete, let them be rewarded and let them be emulated….Run those two competitions and actually incentive performance and change the behavior through the funding mechanism.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo
State of the State Address, January 5, 2011
What are you doing tonight? Will you be joining educational leaders, district representatives and community members at Columbia High School in East Greenbush, NY to learn more about the looming fiscal crisis facing all public schools? If not, you should be!
Educational leaders, like North Colonie Superintendent D. Joseph Corr, hope that the forum will serve as a springboard to inform and energize influential stakeholder teams from 47 school districts served by Questar III and Capital Region BOCES, and have a ripple effect of catalyzing grassroots advocacy in communities all around New York state.
The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Columbia High School, East Greenbush. It’s not too late to join your district’s team. If you’d like to attend the event, please your district’s main office and ask to be added to the list.
If you can’t make it in person, follow along from home! Education Speaks will be broadcasting the forum live on our blog, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event will also be live-tweeted by Education Speaks editorial board members. If you’re on Twitter, follow @edspeaksny and #NYSchoolsInPeril to get the live scoop. We’ll also be posting content to our Facebook page throughout the night. You can Like Us on Facebook here!
With another year of significant state revenue reductions looming for New York State’s public school districts in 2013-14 and more difficult educational decisions to be made, school district stakeholders are participating in an important event this month to help draw region-wide attention to the fiscal crisis facing all public schools.
District leaders, educators, parents and community members from 47 area school districts are joining together on Thursday, January 31, (snow date is February 7) for a forum entitled, “Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril – Running Out of Time & Options.” The event, to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Columbia High School, East Greenbush, will illustrate the magnitude of the crisis collectively facing all schools unless significant action is taken during the 2013 New York State legislative session.
The purpose of joining together as one on January 31 is to:
Headlining the forum is Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, who will discuss the importance this legislative session of eliminating the GEA, providing adequate and equitable aid to education, and providing a meaningful measure of mandate relief to school districts.
Following Timbs’ presentation, leaders from three vastly different geographical school districts – suburban Guilderland (Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles), Schenectady City (Superintendent Larry Spring) and rural Schodack (Superintendent Bob Horan), will offer their personal perspectives on how failure to act in Albany will continue to harmfully impact their students next school year, and for years to come.
The Stark Reality
The stark reality is that due to these economic circumstances, students who graduated in the Class of 2012 may have received the best education that most school districts will be able to offer for the foreseeable future. With the erosion of state aid across the state, staff has been cut and numerous student programs have been reduced and eliminated. Meaningful mandate relief from Albany, while promised by the governor, has not materialized.
As such, the 47 school districts joining forces on January 31, representing more than 112,000 students in two counties, have lost over $110 million in state funding this school year alone due to the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).
Following the January 31 forum, district stakeholders from across the region will be asked to take the next step and mobilize by the hundreds (perhaps thousands) by advocating for change with the elected leaders serving their communities. To help them in that process, the Niskayuna Central School District will host a second forum on the evening of Monday, February 11, to teach effective advocacy strategies and techniques. Joining them will be Robert N. Lowry, Jr., Deputy Director
for Advocacy Research & Communications, for the NYS Council of School Superintendents (NYSCSS).
Education Speaks will be covering the event on January 31. If you are not attending with your district, you can watch the event via live-stream from our blog, or follow along with us on Twitter, as we will be live-tweeting as well. More on this to come next week. We hope you stay with us.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said that he will not raise taxes to help offset the cost of the damage – even if the federal government fails to foot the entire damage bill. Instead, the governor is predicted to continue last year’s approach of reducing the high costs of state government as a source for cost-savings.
The state is already facing a projected $1 billion budget gap and Cuomo has gone as far as to say that the gap could double because of the effects of the storm. While no official numbers have been released, the governor is said to be seeking $30 billion in federal aid, though according to New York Post columnist Fred Dicker, many in government are skeptical that anything approaching the requested amount will be received.
If the governor turns to cutting support to state government agencies, schools would almost certainly be included. Cuomo has already reduced aid to schools across the board by 0.5 percent from last year (four percent down to 3.5%), putting schools that rely heavily upon aid in an even more precarious position. Without a timetable, districts will be in a waiting game to see how much aid they’ll receive, thus holding up budget planning.
Some districts that were affected directly by Hurricane Sandy have applied to the State Education Department to have certain requirements waived after weather-related disasters. While some districts are optimistic that they will meet the mandated 180 days of classroom instruction, others are not so sure. Failure to meet this mandate would result in the loss of valuable state aid.
Question: Should the governor be taking away more aid from schools in order to offset the cost from the damage of Hurricane Sandy?
Last week, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show did a segment that focused on public education, and the impact that budget cuts, new evaluations and the general lack of funding is having on students and teachers. This was a part of his discussion with director Katie Dellamaggiore and student Pobo Efekoro about their documentary film “Brooklyn Castle,” which details how budget cuts affected a highly successful chess program at a New York City middle school.
Stewart on budget cuts: “You know we talk so much about No Child Left Behind and now we teach to the test. As a student, there’s a program in this school that is clearly lighting up these children’s hearts and minds, and bringing out the absolute best in them, and the first thing we do in that situation is say ‘well, that’s the thing that has to go’. You’re cutting the vital appendage, taking that money and spending it all on tests.”
Efekoro spoke very highly of teachers, specifically those he has had. He referenced his eighth grade teacher, saying that he was ‘the best teacher he ever had’ due in part because he didn’t ‘teach to the test’. To which Stewart responded: ‘Because teaching is an art form in many ways.’
Watch Stewart’s full interview and commentary below and tell us what you think in the comments.
Faced with unprecedented fiscal pressures, many school districts across New York State are ramping up efforts to advocate for their needs. The catalyst helping those efforts catch fire? Social media.
On March 1, the New York State School Boards Association asked its Facebook fans to relay examples of school districts using social media for advocacy. The organization received a healthy dose of comments with links to intriguing examples of school districts joining with their communities to advocate for various causes:
This Facebook community group urges community members to support the Alden Central School District, located just outside of Buffalo, “in this time of reduced state aid.”
Here’s another community Facebook page that riffs off the 60 percent supermajority required to approve a tax levy increase exceeding a school district’s tax levy limit by declaring “I’m part of the 60% who will support Highland Schools” (located just outside of Poughkeepsie).
In the Capital Region, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District uses its Facebook page to relay important news related to state aid and equitable school funding, and has also shared an Advocacy Toolkit with its residents. Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES also uses its Facebook page to help its community understand the complexities of New York’s tax levy cap legislation.
Do you know of other school districts using social media for advocacy? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo released his 2012-13 Executive Budget proposal. If you missed it, you can watch the presentation here. You can read all about it here and you may also want to check out the related twitter stream #NYSbudget. Below is a rundown of news coverage from around the state and responses from various educational organizations. This list will be updated as more coverage and responses are released.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of what the Governor had to say about education.
“Last month, Governor Cuomo demonstrated strong leadership in assuring the state would have revenue to follow through on an $805 million increase in School Aid, as promised in the two-year appropriation enacted last year. The aid proposal he presented today would provide schools with the best starting point they have had in recent years.
“The Governor is right to prioritize helping high need districts, but we would like see more of the increase for all districts targeted to general operating aid.
“The Governor is also right that New York cannot afford to lose $1 billion in federal education funds because of a stalemate over new evaluation procedures. Superintendents have done their best to implement a law which the Governor has said, “was destined to fail.” Without a better state framework, threatening districts with a loss of aid will not produce better evaluations.
“We welcome the Governor’s ‘Tier VI’ proposal on pensions. For most of the past decade, surging pension and health care costs have forced school leaders to make hard choices between cutting programs or asking voters to approve local tax increases. Now, with the tax cap, there will be only one choice, unless the state acts to help restrain those costs.
“We look forward to working with the Governor, Assembly and Senate to assure that schools get a budget and mandate relief that allows schools to give students the best learning opportunities we can.”
Want to see how much money your district is getting? Check out the state aid runs.
Education Speaks team members recently sat down with Statewide School Finance Consortium Executive Director Dr. Rick Timbs (featured in this post) to talk about school funding in New York State. Here’s the third installment of this informative interview, which addresses the questions: