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Local News

February 16, 2013

Forum planned on school aid

With area schools facing tough choices following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget proposal, the Unatego Central School community group, Save Our Schools, is hosting a legislative forum.

It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb, 28 in the Otego Elementary School gym.

Organizers are hoping the meeting will help encourage legislators to more equitably distribute state school aid to area schools when they finalize the budget, which is due April 1.

Schools in the Delaware-Chenango-Madison Otego BOCES and the Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES have been invited to attend. Local legislators invited include Sens. John J. Bonacic and  James L. Seward, and Assemblymen Clifford Crouch, Pete Lopez and William Magee. It will begin with welcoming remarks by representatives of each school district attending.

It is similar to a forum held at Unatego High School that was attended by more than 600 people who talked with area legislators about economic problems resulting from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget 2012-13 proposals. His 2013-14 plan appears to increase aid many schools, but a gap elimination adjustment — to help the state meet its budget shortfall — leaves many schools with little, if any, net increase and reduces aid for others.

Seward said he plans to attend. Aid to education and equitable funding are some of his top priorities in the budget making process, he said, adding that it’s always helpful to meet with representatives of schools, including officials, parents and community members.

This year’s proposal is a better starting point, but the gap elimination cuts hurt area schools, Seward added.

He said will be talking about ways that Unatego and other schools can get more funding from Cuomo’s plan. This

includes $203 million in fiscal stabilization funds that haven’t been designated and $75 million that has been earmarked for new initiatives. That may be laudable, but “not at a time when we are not covering what we have in place,” he said.

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