RELEASE: Education Budget Reaction
Parents, Students, School Board Members, Superintendents Join
AQE in Reaction to Education Budget
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Nikki Jones, Communications Director, (518) 432-5315 ext. 101
Billy Easton, Executive Director, (518) 432-5315 ext. 104
Parents, educators and advocates, organized by the Alliance for Quality Education, reacted to the agreed upon 2012-2013 education budget deal. Participants applauded the Legislature for redirecting $200 million of the proposed $250 million in experimental competitive grants to classrooms and for prioritizing funding for high needs districts. However, they highlighted that $805 million restoration as not enough to prevent schools from making more cuts. In the coming months school districts will propose budgets that include cuts in teaching positions and programs including kindergarten, college prep and advanced placement courses, career & technical education, arts, music, sports, tutoring, foreign languages, high school electives, after school programs.
2012-2013 Budget Agreement:
- $805 million restoration to public schools
- The proposed $200 million expansion of the proposed competitive grants is rejected and instead will be invested in schools and classrooms
- High needs districts are prioritized to receive the school aid in a manner that is consistent with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity
- The Legislature rejected cuts to early intervention services for children with special needs as well as to special education for pre-school children.
- The budget agreement includes changes to pre-kindergarten that will prevent back door cuts in pre-kindergarten.
“There is a groundswell growing in reaction to the fact that Albany’s education policies are hurting our schools,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “The state budget restores $805 million in school aid. The legislature successfully restored $200 million to our classrooms that the Governor had proposed to divert into competitive grants—this will mean a few more vital classroom programs will be saved. We wish to thank both houses of the legislature on a bipartisan basis for restoring these funds and for prioritizing high need school districts. But make no mistake about it–this budget does not reverse the damage being done the quality of our schools by the policies of Albany. There will be more classroom cuts in schools across the state and we need our elected state leaders to listen to the demands of parents and students and recommit to quality education for all students not only for those in the wealthiest communities.”
“While we are grateful the Legislature responded to our efforts by restoring some of the competitive funds, it’s simply not enough,” said Cohoes Superintendent Robert K. Libby. “In Cohoes, we will likely see more than 30 staff cuts as we seek to fill a $2.1 million budget gap. Nothing will be spared as we are forced to make striking changes to what we offer our students. Music, art, all extracurriculars, all field trips, and sports are on the chopping block,” said Robert K. Libby, Superintendent, Cohoes City School District
“While I am pleased the grassroots efforts of teachers, parents, students, and grandparents such as me have made a significant difference in preventing some classroom cuts this year, our schools will not be adequately funded until the state decides to make public education a priority. Despite the redirection of competitive grants, class sizes will still rise next year for my grandson, and, unless policies change, pre-kindergarten will not be available through the school district to my other grandchildren. Albany cannot continue to deliver quality programs to their students when less is given from the state, and when a property tax cap prevents the school district from maintaining an adequate level of funding,” said Kathleen Scales, Albany Grandparent.
“Winning Beginning NY appreciates the Governor’s and Legislature’s commitment to child care subsidies to increased access to working families. Still, too many children across New York State lack access to high-quality care, and families don’t get the information they need to make informed decisions about child care. That’s why we’ll continue to urge the State to invest in New York’s children and families by funding QUALITYstarsNY,” said Jenn O’Connor, Winning Beginning New York Coordinator.
“Challenging times call out the greatness in us. I have seen Albany’s teachers and ordinary citizens respond to the crisis of the last few years with true greatness, sacrificing their own personal interests in support of our community. We need state government to do the same – to overcome narrow interests and adopt a budget that supports quality education for those amongst us who need it most. That is state government’s constitutional duty. Our people deserve greatness in their elected officials. Please give it to them,” said Daniel Eagan, Albany City School District Board President
“The conversation needs to be about how we fund public schools in New York,” said V. Mark Pascale, president of the Cohoes Board of Education. “Linking education funding to property values is a practice that is inherently flawed. To ensure all children in New York are provided with opportunities to succeed, it needs to be addressed,” said V. Mark Pascale, President, Board of Education, Cohoes City School District
Similar events will take place in Binghamton, Kingston, Rochester, Long Island and Yonkers.