We, the undersigned citizens of Syracuse, New York, urge you to restore education aid to the Syracuse City schools in the 2014-2015 state budget. This is not a request for new or additional funds for our schools, but a call for funding already promised, but never delivered.
We call on you to act now to:
• Restore $7.7 million in foundation aid to Syracuse for the 2014-2015 school year as a good faith gesture toward renewing the promise that NYS will find a fair way to fund schools so that all children, even those who live in Syracuse, can enjoy their constitutional right to a sound basic education.
• Restore $1.8 million in flexible universal all-day pre-K funding.
• Eliminate immediately the balance of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and reallocate these funds to high needs districts, including Syracuse.
Net foundation aid to the Syracuse City School District is less today than it was for the 2008/2009 school year! This is true despite the fact that the Budget and Reform Act of 2007 committed the state to increase its aid to the Syracuse school district by almost 35% yearly by 2011-2012. And, it’s true despite the fact that enrollment in the Syracuse schools has grown by more than 500 students during this same time and that expectations for educational outcomes and accountability have increased dramatically with the adoption of the Common Core Learning Standards and the implementation of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). To say that Syracuse Schools are being asked to do more with less is a gross understatement.
Staffing has been slashed by almost 1000 positions, resulting in the loss of more than 600 direct service adults to interact with Syracuse students. Class sizes have exploded. Safety within our buildings has been notoriously compromised, despite herculean efforts by remaining staff. The constitutionally guaranteed right of every student to receive a sound basic education, established by NYS Court of Appeals in 2003, has been further diminished.
Another loss to Syracuse: Syracuse City School District recently qualified for competitive grant money offered by Governor Cuomo to support all-day pre-K programs, but the state “ran out” of money before awarding Syracuse the 1.8 million dollars stipulated by the grant proposal. This is in sharp contrast with Rochester, where its qualifying proposal was fully funded with 10 million dollars.
These failed promises are on your watch. Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse and the undersigned citizens of Syracuse ask for your action now.