A group from Unatego Central School was among the participants at an Albany rally Wednesday seeking state action for financial challenges facing schools.
The 17 participants from Unatego, including students, teachers and administrators, were among 700 people from around the state who were brought to the state capital for “The Educate NY Now” event. Held on the lawn of the Capitol building, speakers called upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to address the fiscal crisis facing state schools and fulfill the state’s court-ordered commitment to increase the share of funding for neediest school districts, according to a media release. Cuomo will propose a spending plan next month that the legislature will consider before approving a state budget. The deadline for it is April 1.
The Unatego district has lost about $3 million over the past 3 years, Unatego Superintendent Charles Molloy. The funds came largely from yearly gap elimination adjustments that the state takes from each district’s aid to balance its budget.
“We can’t afford to make further cuts,” Molloy said. Last year the district reorganized its two elementary schools to help make up the shortfall. It faces closing one of the buildings and cutting non-mandated programs if similar cuts are made to state aid for 2012-13.
“The group’s effort are certainly needed to make Albany and the broader community aware of the problem,” Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, said. He met with the group for about an hour at the state museum before the rally.
“It is a passionate group that is focused on insuring our children have a future with the proper education,” he said. The process of funding schools is “disjointed” and does not bring the necessary stakeholders into the equation, he said. With resources scarce since the economic downturn, “the challenge will be to transform the status quo so we can provide a quality education on a sustained basis.”