A Rally for Education will be held from 4-5 p.m. on Tuesday,
Mar. 20, 2012 at HFM BOCES’ Johnstown campus.
Parents and students, teachers and administrators, community and
business leaders will unite with a single voice calling for
equitable treatment for the schools and students in the HFM
BOCES region. It’s time for all people concerned about the
future for their children and public education in upstate New
York to speak up.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature are nearing an
agreement on a state budget for 2012. That budget tragically
underfunds public education, particularly poor rural schools in
upstate New York.
The state has cut or frozen aid to schools for the past five
years. Each year, area schools have been forced to trim, and
then slash programs and staff in the effort to preserve a sound
basic education to their students.
Looking toward the 2012-13 school year, area schools face
multi-million dollar gaps in already lean budgets brought about
by another year of frozen state aid, punishing Gap Elimination
Adjustments that take money back from schools, and a new tax
levy cap that limits the amount schools can raise from local
Most schools have already, or are poised to deplete their
reserve funds. The “rainy day” funds are used up and the storm
has just begun.
Schools now face the unavoidable decision to cut kindergarten,
arts, music, librarians, counselors, AP courses, all sports and
Governor Cuomo pronounced himself “lobbyist for the students,”
but upstate schools are teetering on the brink and our students
are paying the price.
The Rally for Education will send a loud message to Albany that
underfunding our children’s education is unacceptable and wrong.
State legislators were elected to represent the people – and
children – in their districts. A voter registration drive at the
rally will provide citizens with the tools to elect
representatives that will be accountable to their constituents.
Where’s the help for today’s students?
The tax levy cap legislation passed last summer with the promise
of mandate relief. Today a Mandate Relief Commission tours the
state, holding hearings and collecting data, but even state
legislators admit to skepticism about the final results.
Acknowledging the economic climate that burdens the state and
local taxpayers, school leaders and parents ask the question:
What about today’s students?
The quality of education should not be determined by zip code.
Without help now from the region’s elected representatives, our
children face larger class sizes and far fewer educational
The governor’s proposed budget set aside $250 million for
competitive grants to high performing schools, grants most of
our poor local schools do not even qualify for.
We demand that the $250 million grant allocation be redirected
to help rural upstate schools keep their doors open another
The governor’s proposed budget includes a Gap Elimination
Adjustment that takes back state aid from every school district
to help the state fill its massive deficit. The GEA formula
takes the most from the neediest districts. HFM BOCES 15 school
districts are set to lose $16.8 million to the GEA formula in
We demand that the Gap Elimination Adjustment formula be changed
to stop penalizing the neediest districts.
Schools now face elimination of all non-mandated programs,
including kindergarten. Today’s kindergarten is an academic
starting point for the skill-building children need to succeed
in first grade and beyond, as well as an academic bridge between
federally funded Universal Pre-K and first grade. Depriving
children of this foundational year holds them back, essentially
handicapping them in their academic growth. Recovering from this
missed year will require extraordinary future efforts by
students and teachers alike.
Loss of kindergarten in struggling poor, rural schools also
widens the educational gap between those schools and wealthier
districts, putting upstate students at a life-long disadvantage.
We demand that the state fully fund kindergarten for all
students. It is less expensive for society to fund education
than to pay for an undereducated adult.