Eastchester Letter: Parents Need To Advocate For More State Education Aid

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EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Eastchester Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to eastchester@dailyvoice.com.

Dear Parents,

Your advocacy is making a difference! The state has backed off sending confidential student information to a third party, thanks in large part to the concern voiced by parents. However, there is still more work to be done. Please keep advocating on behalf of Eastchester’s children.

It’s time to contact our legislators again and tell them that the state needs to restore financial aid that has been taken from school districts every year since the 2009-2010 school year.

In order to balance the state budget, much needed aid was taken away from school districts, beginning in 2009. This is known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Since the GEA’s inception, school districts have lost more than $8 billion in GEA state aid cuts. Eastchester alone has lost $3,760,682 in GEA to help the state fill its budget deficit. Well, that deficit is now a surplus.

The cumulative impact of four consecutive years of state aid losses has resulted in cuts in personnel, programs and services and the depletion of district reserves. Eastchester has eliminated teachers, counselors, administrators, teaching assistants, custodians, administrative assistants and technology staff; class sizes are increasing and non-mandated curricula and extra-curricula offerings are at risk.

To complicate matters, the Eastchester School District is experiencing enrollment growth (not a decline, as has been stated by the Governor’s office as a rationale for not increasing state aid).

In addition, the enactment of the tax levy limit (popularly known as the property tax cap) in 2011 further limited districts’ ability to raise local revenue. Since state aid and local property taxes are the primary sources of revenue for school districts, districts have been forced to make difficult choices to balance their budgets with greatly reduced revenue.

This ongoing loss of revenue, combined with a very low tax cap (1.46 percent) and increased expenses, means that the Eastchester School District is looking at a shortfall of almost $1.35 million for the coming budget year. This will mean drastic reductions for Eastchester – more staff and teacher layoffs – in addition to the 60 positions that have already been eliminated over the last five years. Furthermore, the state has continued to impose unfunded and costly mandates on school districts

Continued loss of state aid will further erode the quality of education school districts can provide. The state should not continue to pass along its revenue “shortfalls” to local school districts since there is now a surplus. The Community View published on February 18 in the Journal News lays out the issues very clearly.

Since the Governor says that there is a budget surplus, it seems that now is the right time to restore aid to school districts. Indeed, the state has a legal obligation to provide a sound education for all children.

Our elected officials need to hear from all residents on this issue. To send the letter to Governor Cuomo, Senator George Latimer, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, please click here to fill out the form. You will need to complete all entry fields and click the “submit” button at the bottom. Once you hit “submit,” your digitally signed letter will be automatically sent.

You may also send a letter by mail:

Amy Paulin, New York State Assembly
700 White Plains Rd.
Scarsdale, NY 10583
paulina@assembly.state.my.us

Senator George Latimer
222 Grace Church St. Suite 252
Port Chester, NY 10573
latimer@nysenate.gov

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224
Governor.Cuomo@nygovoffice.gov

Sincerely,
Mary Messner Martin and Willa Brody, Co-chairs
Eastchester Board of Education Community Relations and Advocacy Advisory Committee

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