We, the undersigned citizens of Syracuse, New York, urge you to ensure that the Syracuse City School District receives $12 million more in state aid for the 2015-2016 school year. Without this “increase,” programs and staffing will suffer another round of damaging cuts, further compromising the likelihood of success.
Although $12 million more aid appears to be an increase, it is not. It falls far short of what was promised by the Budget and Reform Act of 2007. It falls far short of what research has repeatedly demonstrated is actually needed to ensure that Syracuse children have the educational opportunity they deserve. Although essential, this $12 million will not be sufficient to make up for years of under-funding. For example, it will not reduce class sizes, provide more basic supplies such as crayons and paper, or supply additional people needed to actively recruit all four-year-olds for Pre-K participation.
Targeting failing schools without fixing the state’s failed system for funding schools dooms reform efforts to failure. Our state ranks 45th in the nation in the equitable distribution of aid, with huge gaps in spending from district to district and with the needs of many children shamefully short-changed. It’s no accident that the 17 districts with schools identified as “failing” cluster at the bottom of the funding chart.
Public education is essential to our democracy. We need to be able to count on our schools to successfully serve all New York children. And, our schools need to be able to count on having adequate resources.
Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse and the undersigned citizens of Syracuse call on Governor Cuomo and our elected officials to act now:
• Restore $12 million in aid to Syracuse for the 2015-2016 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.
• Eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment this year. Continuation of the GEA is destructive. It further erodes our faith that the state’s promises to schools will be fulfilled. And, it delays the essential business of finding a fair way to fund our schools.