'Equity, not adequacy, is the funding issue'
Did you know that $1 out of every $10 spent on education in the U.S. is spent in New York State? So said David Little, Executive Director of the Rural Schools Association, at the ECASB "Albany Update" Winter Dinner program. "Equity, not adequacy, is the funding issue," he said. New York State is not in a position to institute new taxes even if it wanted to, he said, noting "We already have every tax in the nation, and we tax it at the highest rates."
He warned that the first year after a governor's re-election is "horrible for state aid." One third of the discretionary portion of state funding is in education, he said, so that first year is spent recalibrating the budget...because it will have to be increased again as it gets closer to the next election. Mitigating factors this year are the state's structural surplus and budgetary windfall from financial sanctions. To those who say the $5 billion financial windfall should not be used to fund ongoing expenses, he counters that it could be used for some one-time shots that would help, such as long-term debt or up-front payments for pre-school. Rather than requiring districts to front money they don't have, with reimbursement to come later, he suggests the state front the money. It is money the state would be spending anyway, he points out. He suggested that the next fight will be what the funding formula looks like moving forward. Regarding education funding, he noted the state's Constitutional obligation for adequate funding.
"This is the state's deal, the state is responsible to pay for it. The only reason you (school districts) exist is the state figures it's the best way to provide its responsibility. You're a franchise and you're being underfunded by the home office." With districts' financial obligations more than they can raise under the tax cap, the state has "set up a system to systematically deconstruct your public education system at the same time it's trying to execute massive change, with Common Core..."
David Little, center, with ECASB President Dr. Carol Nowak, and Legislative Team Leader Scott Johnson, Sweet Home Board of Education.
ECASB member districts can hear more from Dave Little and how they can respond at the ECASB Legislative Advocacy Session on Saturday, Feb. 28. Districts will be able to send up to 10 registrants for training as an advocacy team.
Posted on Friday, 16 January 2015 09:27
WNY Delegation Commits to Elimination of GEA
ECASB 'State of the Schools Report' Goes to Governor and Assembly Speaker
What's the GEA and what has it done to your school district? The "Gap Elimination Adjustment" began as a budget balancing diversion of funds away from schools to help NYS during the budget crisis. It has since become NYS's annual practice of taking money from school districts. ECASB's"State of the Schools" report provides "thumbnail" sketches of what this has done to our member districts in Erie County. Cumulatively, these districts have lost $482 million to the Gap Elimination Adjustment over the past five years. This played a large role in the elimination of some 1700-some jobs from Erie County school districts, and the programs that went with them.
What's gone? The report profiles the losses in each district: Entire business programs, job coaching for special needs students, science and arts electives, sports and music, academic intervention services, study groups, academic and career centers and Regents review classes. In many districts, some of our brightest students are sitting in study halls rather than classes, because the teachers who would have taught them are no longer there. Some of our most academically needy students no longer have elementary summer school or late buses for after-school academic programs. Math and reading support has been reduced or eliminated in several districts. Specifics are listed in this report.
ECASB will continue to press for mandate relief, and we will continue to advocate for efficiencies and shared services where feasible among school districts - we consider these the true tools to reduce local property tax levies - but meanwhile, many of our Erie County school districts are in dire financial straits. With New York State now operating on a surplus, we urgently need to have the Gap Elimination Adjustment eliminated. While the GEA has been scaled back, it still drains essential funding from systems already weakened by this regressive practice. Eliminating the GEA is essential to returning fiscal stability and program integrity to our schools.
Posted on Monday, 12 January 2015 12:38
Legislators Advocate for Restoration of GEA Aid Withheld by NYS
Several Superintendents and school board members gathered to review the report and meet with WNY legislators to press for elimination of the GEA, which began as a one year attempt by New York State at the start of the Great Recession to help put its own financial house in order. "Since then, it has simply become the annual withholding of school funding," said Mrs. Burzynski.
Posted on Friday, 24 October 2014 11:29
Online Petition for Gap Elimination Adjustment
Two teachers at Lake Shore have set up this online petition drive to let the NYS Legislature know the funding of education, specifically the Gap Elimination Adjustment, needs to be addressed now.
Click here or on the logo above to sign the petition!
Posted on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 15:12
Behind the Numbers of New York State's
Gap Elimination Adjustment
What It Means in the Depew School District
What It Means in the Ken-Ton School District
What It Means in the Lake Shore SD (Superintendent James Przepasniak)
What It Means in the Lake Shore SD (Assistant Supt. Admin/Finance Dan Pacos)
Posted on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:40
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State of Schools Report on GEA Loss to ECASB School Districts
What's GEA & why is it capsizing school districts? See Depew School District's GEA Information Page
Sen. Ranzenhofer letter to Gov. Cuomo Calls for Elimination of GEA
WNY Delegation Members Seek End to GEA: VIDEO
Letter Template calling for End of GEA and Aid Restoration
ECASB letters to Gov. Cuomo and Sheldon Silver re Ending the GEA
Springville GI resolution opposing mandatory participation in stand alone field testing
NYSSBA Resolutions Rebuttals:
Two ECASB school districts, Springville and West Seneca, have submitted rebuttal statements to a NYS School Boards Association resolution supporting the use of student
performance in APPR to be voted on at the Annual Business Meeting in NYC. The proposed NYSSBA resolutions can be viewed here.
The rebuttal statements can be viewed here:
ECASB Legislative Team sends post cards to legislators about school funding. Read some of them here.
Sen. Grisanti responds to concerns about Senate Budget proposal. Read the letter here.
ECASB Superintendent says Albany must provide leadership to implement Common Core Standards.
ECASB District Resolutions re NYS Assessments:
Kenton School District
Springville GI School District
Sequestration and Your Schools: Click here for Q&A from the National School Boards Association
Issues & School Fiscal Updates...ECASB 2013 Legislative Breakfast Report.
This is the contact information for State Senate and Assembly members representing ECASB member schools districts
School Boards Speak on Sequestration
Buffalo Board of Education resolution on sequestration
Projected Impact of Sequestration on Sweet Home Schools
This information will be presented to Congressman Brian Higgins office during the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network in Washington, D.C.
Click here for ECASB letters to Federal Representatives regarding Sequestration
See below for Federal Representatives Responses to ECASB (Effective Dec. 5, 2012)
Congressman Brian Higgins
Also, see the Springville Griffith Institute's Nov. 14, 2012 Sequestration Resolution urging "Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness."
ECASB Testimony to Education Reform Commission in Buffalo
ECASB members at the Governor's Education Reform Commission Public Hearing in Buffalo were Linda Hoffman (Erie 2 BOCES), Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora), Scott Johnson (Sweet Home) and Jane Burzynski (Exec. Director). All submitted written testimony, Jane spoke before the panel. Topics and excerpts:
"Our request to you, as a Commission, is to be aware of how hard people are working for continual improvement to our educational system, and to be aware that continual improvement is unlikely without sufficient funding. To the end, we hope your work and recommendations can be aligned with those of the Mandate Relief Council. Our good intentions will come to naught without funding to support the technology, research, staffing and data needed for their implemantation."- Jane Burzynski (Executive Director)
"This is not a request to discontinue everything. Management should not be allowed to remove contract items just to get an agreement. All we ask is to level the playing field so that labor is not making money for just standing still. Relief from this one mandate would have such a significant effect on all school budgets. It will help us keep teachers and support staff instead of laying them off, it will allow us to maintain programs, instead of cutting them." - Scott Johnson (Sweet Home)
"The Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) requirements have been described as “the greatest unfunded mandate schools have ever seen.” The time, staffing, and processes required are an enormous lift for schools already working with reduced funding ... The massive amount of student testing as schools compile data and documentation also comes at a cost which must be absorbed by school districts. The State wants it, but the State does not have the money to pay for it ... We understand that the intention is to assess and improve learning, but the good intentions must be supported by funding ... the “side effects” of many of today’s mandates are threatening the existence of public education as we know it." - Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora)
Property Tax Cap Without Mandate Relief: "This is gonna kill us ..."
A property tax cap, without accompanying mandate relief, will be lethal to area school districts, Erie County School Board members were told at the 2011 ECASB School Finance Academy. "You've got a gun pointed right at you," warned Mike Ford, "This is gonna kill us." Sharing data from the Statewide School Finance Consortium, Mr. Ford, who is Superintendent of central New York's Phelps-Clifton Springs School District, spoke to more then 60 area school board members at the program entitled, "The Storm is Here."
He noted that Erie County school districts are not high wealth. "At tops, you are average," he said, referring to Amherst and Williamsville. When state aid to schools was reduced, he said, wealthy districts (Long Island area) lost less than 5% aid, but less wealthy districts lost as much as 28%. "The poorest districts got clobbered last year by gap elimination," he said. "Look where your region was, you got hit very hard by that gap elimination." Less wealthy districts suffer most because state aid funds a much greater percentage of their budgets. Because more money is lost, local taxes go even higher in poorer districts asthey try to make up the gap.