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ACTION ALERT: Demand a fair share of school aid from Albany!

The 2012-13 Cohoes City School District budget season is underway and the latest estimates show a potential budget gap of nearly $2.1 million for the coming school year. As a high-needs, low-wealth district, Cohoes relies heavily on aid it receives from Albany. Unfortunately, Albany has not kept its promise to adequately fund our schools. Your HELP is needed NOW to get our message to state leaders that education is at risk in Cohoes!

Repeated cuts in state aid, combined with escalating costs of mandates and reductions in federal funds, have forced the school district to make difficult decisions regarding educational programs, staffing, and more.

Last year, with a gap of approximately $1.7 million, the district eliminated 25 positions; reduced sports and extracurricular programs; made deeper cuts to music and language offerings; reduced electives at the high school; and removed librarians from most of the district's libraries. This year, the choices will be much more difficult unless we can get state leaders to commit to give Cohoes its fair share of school aid!

Please print these letters, sign your name, include your return address and mail to the addresses provided below. You may also wish to add a personal note. If you can not mail the letters, use the "Link to Online Contact Information" under each representative's name to express your concerns. It is important to let these representatives know that Cohoes values its schools.

 

Contact our state legislators

Hon. Ron Canestrari
Majority Leader
926 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Email: canestr@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: 518-455-2225
Link to online contact information
(represents Cohoes is the New York State Assembly)
Click here to download and print .PDF letter
   
Hon. Neil Breslin
413 State Capitol
Albany, NY 12247
Email: breslin@senate.state.ny.us
Phone: 518-455-2225
Link to online contact information
(represents Cohoes is the New York State Senate)
Click here to download and print .PDF letter
   
Hon. John Flanagan
Chair, Senate Education Committee
805 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Email: flanagan@nysenate.gov
Phone: 518-455-2071
Fax: 518-426-6904
Link to online contact information
Click here to download and print .PDF letter
   
Hon. Catherine Nolan
Chair, Assembly Education Committee
836 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12248
Phone; 518-455-4851
E-mail: nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us
Link to online contact information
Click here to download and print .PDF letter
   

 

Cohoes City Schools rely heavily on state aid

School districts in New York State are funded mostly through a combination of state aid and property tax levy. Unlike wealthier school districts where there is greater property wealth and higher incomes, Cohoes relies heavily on the state school aid allocation to fund its schools. Last year, state aid comprised 56 percent of the district's budget.

In 2007, following a successful court challenge by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), school aid formulas were reformed to provide low-wealth, high-needs districts like Cohoes with greater equity in funding. Known as "foundation aid," this formula was expected to drive much-needed annual aid increases to Cohoes and communities like it. Unfortunately, foundation aid has been frozen at 2008-09 levels for four years.

To make matters worse, last year a "Gap Elimination Adjustment" was charged against the foundation aid, reducing total state aid to Cohoes by nearly $1 million. This year, the Gap Elimination Adjustment has been reduced, but not eliminated. Foundation aid remains frozen. And despite what is being reported as an increase in year-to-year aid of $500,738 as proposed in Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget, this amount is only a fraction of the increase foundation aid was intended to provide the Cohoes City School District.

Moreover, the $500,738 increase will not even cover the loss of $511,642 in federal Education Jobs funding that was available in the current year's budget.

 

I thought Governor Cuomo already proposed his budget...isn't it too late to ask for more?

No, it's not too late. The Governor put forth his Executive Budget on January 18. It serves, more or less, as a guide for the two houses of the Legislature -- Assembly and Senate -- to craft budget proposals of their own. Legislative budget committees will meet throughout February and March as the two houses seek compromises on important budget issues. The two houses will also work with the Governor's staff as well to reach an agreement, with the intention of having an agreed upon budget ready to pass prior to the April 1 budget deadline

Now is the MOST IMPORTANT time to contact our local legislators, and those charged with making important decisions on education.

 

Advocacy is for EVERYONE

Dr. Rick Timbs, Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, has a message about advocacy. His message has particularly important meaning for communities like Cohoes that are seeking more equity from Albany leaders.

 

 

If you would like to hear more from Rick Timbs about issues of equity in distribution of state aid, mandate relief, and more, you can view this video series in its entirety by visiting Education Speaks. Education Speaks is a blog dedicated to fostering conversation about education issues impacting New York.

 

What about specifics of the 2012-13 Cohoes City School District budget?

The Board of Education will continue to gather information related to the budget, including public input, at a series of meetings in the coming weeks and months. Click here for a schedule of meetings>>

 

What if I can't get to a meeting to share my ideas about the budget?

The district is trying to make it easier for community members to weigh in on the budget. This year, there is a special budget email account to receive comments and ideas regarding the 2012-13 school budget. The address is Budget13@cohoes.org.