School districts are spending down their savings in order to keep tax increases down while still covering a budget shortfall. They are doing what we did last year. And why are our school districts in such dire straights? Back in 2010, the Gap Elimination Adjustment was introduced to help balance the state budget. They took away money that our schools relied on as the bulk of their funding.
We are all familiar with the upcoming furloughs of federal workers, where families are being asked to get by on partial pay. Our school districts have been furloughed since 2010. They dipped into their savings and cut expenses where they could, just like any family would. This GEA was supposed to be temporary. Yes, there is more state funding for schools this year, but its like the furloughed family that is back up to 4¼ days of pay still not the five days of pay on which they based their budget.
So what does a family do when looking at a pay cut? Many families affected by the furlough are looking at a second job to make up lost wages. Our schools do have a second job to make up any budget shortfall, which is our school taxes.
Right now many districts are not asking for much of a tax increase, because they know how that will impact the families in their district. But remember this Albany enacted the GEA because they didnt want to look bad raising taxes. They are forcing us to raise our own.
However, I would rather have a local tax increase, where I know it is staying in my local economy to educate the children in my community and save my neighbors who are employed by the school district. If I send a tax increase out to Albany, I have no control where it goes.
No one wants to pay more, but it may be necessary to save the life of our local schools and the identity of our communities. I ask you to write your representatives in Albany to change the way school funding is calculated. Urge them to eliminate the GEA. Enlist the help of friends in other parts of the state, for this is a New York state problem. Education in New York is not equitable our children are not getting the same education as their downstate counterparts.
Also, get involved in your local school board they are your elected representatives and are trying to figure out what you want for your school. But they cant know if you dont speak up.
Sandy Young Klindt