Ten Capital Region school districts will be gathering with state legislators at Columbia High School in East Greenbush for a Forum on the Sustainability of Schools on Thursday, January 30 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the school auditorium.
The event was developed to start a conversation with New York State legislators concerning the decline in state aid to local school districts and the long-term impact this could have on students and the education they are provided.
Each of the 10 school districts participating in this event have received the minimum in Foundation Aid from the state in recent years. (Foundation Aid is one of the two major sources of revenue for school districts. The other source is local property taxes.)
For example, East Greenbush CSD received an additional $127,547 in Foundation Aid for this current school year, an increase of just 0.0075 percent, which is less than the rate of inflation.
Meanwhile, basic mandated needs continue to grow such as English as a New Language, mental health and special education. Those increasing services require more teachers, more support staff and new programs, which all add to district costs.
The legislative budget process decides the amount of Foundation Aid for each school district. In the era of the Tax Cap, when the legislature decides that the growth of Foundation Aid will be below the rate of inflation, school districts cannot raise local taxes to compensate and keep pace with inflation. There is no choice but to make reductions in expenditures, which means cuts to teachers and staff, academic electives and extracurricular programs.
“This is an opportunity for our students, parents, teachers and staff to learn more about this concerning trend in state aid and have a productive conversation with our representatives,” said Jeff Simons, superintendent of the East Greenbush Central School District. “We hope this is the start of an important dialogue that can improve our state aid and bring some relief to our local taxpayers.”
Half a dozen legislators from the state senate and assembly have already committed to attending the event where they will participate in a Q&A with the audience.
The program will also include brief presentations on topics such as basic school finance and increasing needs for students, as well as, a list of practical solutions that legislators could take up that would benefit local schools.
“I am really glad to help organize this forum as a part of our Advocacy Committee,” said Columbia High School senior Grace Davis ’20. “Decreases in state aid have a direct impact on the opportunities available to students, which in turn have a direct impact on kids’ educational and learning experiences. The sustainability of programs that encourage participation in STEM and the fine arts, as well as mental health conscientiousness, is so important within our schools. This forum will help to ensure that students within East Greenbush Central Schools and other districts throughout the Capital Region are successful in all educational endeavors.”
Students, parents, teachers and staff from each of these school districts are invited to attend this event.
Forum on Sustainability of Schools
WHAT: A conversation with New York State legislators concerning state aid funding and the sustainability of local school districts
WHEN: Thursday, January 30 at 7:00-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Columbia High School Auditorium, 962 Luther Rd., East Greenbush, N.Y., 12061