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Hundreds gather to advocate for Upstate Schools

October 23, 2013 -- More than 300 people gathered at Queensbury High School this October to advocate on behalf of their students and schools. The regional event brought together community members representing 30 upstate school districts, which together have lost more than $32 million in state aid in the last five years.

Featured speaker Dr. Richard G. Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, spoke passionately about some of the most urgent fiscal challenges facing public schools in New York. He shared that on average, local school districts have lost $819 in state aid per student in the last five years to the Gap Elimination Adjustment—far exceeding the state average of $373 in state aid lost per student. He also shared data and stories that illustrated inequities in the current method of state aid distribution. Click here to view his presentation (PDF).

“We really have reached a turning point. Most districts have cut deeply and are now faced with the notion that it may not be possible to maintain the programs that they have without significant changes to our current funding system,” said James P. Dexter, district superintendent of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES. “What is known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and more broadly, the overall distribution of state aid, has great impact on each district’s capacity to meet the needs of the children they serve.”

Photo of Jerry receiving award 

 

Superintendents from the Queensbury, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and South Glens Falls school districts also spoke and encouraged community members to take action by advocating with their legislators.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a small district, a large district, a rural district, a suburban district or a small city school district, in this region the issues are very much the same. Our expenditures are outpacing our revenue,” said Queensbury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley.

Huntley told the audience that ongoing fiscal challenges, caused largely by insufficient state aid, spurred the four co-hosting superintendents to organize the regional event in order “to ask for your support and ask you to become advocates for public schools in New York State.”

Advocates often use letters or phone calls to reach out to legislators, but event participants were shown how to quickly advocate that night just by using social media. Many participants with Twitter accounts used hash tag #standup4upstate to send a message to the governor via @NYGovCuomo. The event was also live-Tweeted on the Glens Falls (@GlensFallsCSD) and Education Speaks (@edspeaksNY) Twitter pages as well as on those of other school districts and event participants.

To join the campaign, tweet the following message: “I'm here to #standup4upstate schools. Fix the funding formula, @NYGovCuomo.” See the Stand Up for Upstate Schools Advocacy Guide for additional information on how you can make a difference for local schools.

Stand Up for Upstate Schools on Tuesday, Oct. 22

October 22, 2013 -- Our schools educate our children, are funded by our tax dollars, employ our neighbors, influence our property values, and help attract property owners to our community. /p>

Without your help, schools in our whole region will face more reductions to programs and services for students---due to inequitable funding and shrinking state aid.

Your voice can make a difference! Join your neighbors from 27 area school districts for the “Stand Up for Upstate Schools” advocacy rally Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Queensbury High School.

Learn what you can do, as citizen advocates for our schools, to bring your concerns to the forefront of legislators’ minds.

Photo of Jerry receiving awardWatch this powerful video below, produced by Capital Region BOCES, called "Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril." It opens Dr. Timbs' presentation, and was used at a similar event in January in Albany. Additional information is available on Education Speaks, also produced by Capital Region BOCES.

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