1,000 advocates stand up for upstate schools at regional event

More than a thousand teachers, administrators, parents and other supporters of education gathered at Saratoga Springs High School on Jan. 22 to advocate for more equitable funding for schools in upstate New York.

The regional advocacy event brought representatives from the 31 school districts in the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES area together to “Stand Up for Upstate Schools.”

Among other advocacy efforts, the event focused on ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a measure instituted in 2010 to spread a portion of the state’s budget shortfall among school districts through cuts in state aid. Since 2010, schools in the WSWHE BOCES region have lost $198.5 million in promised state aid to the GEA. The Schuylerville Central School District has lost $8.3 million.

To do your part, tweet the message “I #StandUp4Upstate children! Let’s work together to end the GEA, @NYGovCuomo” or some other message urging lawmakers to fix the state’s educational funding.

WOERNER: ELIMINATE THE GEA

Assemblywoman Carrier Woerner, D-Round Lake, has introduced her first bill, which would get rid of the GEA.

Speaking before more than 60 people in a news conference on Jan. 28 at Greenwich Central School, Woerner said she wanted to counter the criticism by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that schools are failing.

“Our schools are not failing. Our schools are succeeding. Our kids are doing well. When they graduate from high school they go on to get jobs, they go on to go to college, our kids are doing well,” Woerner said. “Our schools have done an amazing job with very limited circumstances over the last few years and superintendents and our teachers and our staff have done a tremendous job, but it’s time to take your foot off the hose. We need to have the baseline funding raised back up so the schools can remain fiscally solvent and fiscally sound into the future.”

Woerner also called on the governor to release the proposed aid amounts for schools. Cuomo has said he will not release any initial aid amounts until the Legislature passes his reform proposals including changes to the teacher evaluation system. He wants 50 percent of teachers’ scores to be based on student achievement on state tests and the other 50 percent on classroom observation and other traditional evaluation measures.

Woerner is sending a letter to the governor urging him to release the amounts, so school districts can proceed with their budget process. People can go on her website to sign their own letter and send it to Cuomo.

View YouTube video about Stand Up for Upstate Schools event:
Advocates for more equitable funding for schools gathered to hear a panel, watch a video and learn the next steps.