28 Small city school districts join forces in support of Small Cities Successful Schools Act (A.5463/S.4988)

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Officials to Unveil Letters of Support With Signatures of Over 200 Superintendents and Board of Education Members to be Delivered to Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders

More than 200 board of education members and superintendents from small city school districts across the state have sent letters to the Governor and Legislative leaders to support Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Senator Joseph Griffo’s bill, A.5463/S.4988, entitled the Small City Successful School Act. This bill acknowledges both the special challenges facing districts with high concentrations of poverty and the role of small city schools as community centers in high need areas. The bill would drive over $96 million in education aid to enable these districts to fund new programs for struggling students through extending learning time, drop-out prevention, class size reduction, psycho-social testing, increasing parent involvement and helping incarcerated youth. The bill is co-sponsored by 17 other legislators representing small cities.

Small city districts have significantly greater burdens, and their students have on average much greater needs, than non-city districts. The districts have been denied a cumulative total of $537 million under the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the frozen Foundation Aid over just the past year. As a result these districts have had to eliminate essential educational programs and lay off thousands of teachers and staff. While eight of the 17 New York districts with schools in receivership are small city districts, only three of these struggling small cities have been provided with aid to fund new initiatives to improve student achievement.

Assemblyman Brindisi stated “Under the current funding environment, small city districts are unable to keep the basic educational programs, class sizes, support staff and remedial programs in place that their kids need to succeed. We must align state funding with student need. This is the civil rights issue of our generation.”

“Small city districts like Binghamton have been disproportionately affected in recent years, especially in light of the growing number of children living in poverty. The current foundation aid formula does not adequately address the real needs these school districts face; and the property tax cap has only added to their fiscal stress,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), prime co-sponsor of A5463. “This legislation also addresses these inequities by adding a small cities successful schools aid category to address for example, afterschool programming, drop-out prevention, and parental involvement.”

The small city district association’s executive director Robert Biggerstaff said “Assemblyman Brindisi’s bill would go far toward alleviating the fiscal pressures on the small city districts, which constitute some of the highest need, lowest wealth and highest taxed districts in the state.”