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North country residents invited to Albany education rally


Residents of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties will join people from around the state in Albany on Wednesday to protest the Gap Elimination Adjustment and call for more school funding.

The protest, No More Excuses Education Parade and Lobby Day, has been arranged by the Alliance for Quality Education, a coalition with members from across the state. According to the Alliance’s website, the protest will call for $1 billion in new classroom operating aid distributed equitably, $225 million for full-day prekindergarten, $110 million for college-ready community schools, $300 million for curriculum restoration and improvement, $20 million for support and intervention to build a positive school climate, $250 million in expense-based aid, more teaching and learning with less testing, and a New York City “millionaires’ tax” to pay for quality full-day prekindergarten for all New York City 4-year-olds and after-school programs for all middle school students.

The Alliance will provide transportation to the rally via bus free of charge for residents of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services District Superintendent Jack J. Boak said he and other school administrators will make the trip because changes need to be made to provide adequate funding for rural schools. He said schools need more money to provide the quality education students deserve.

“I think it’s very powerful to get together and feel they’re part of a much larger effort,” said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

Mrs. Russell said with the amount of education money in the proposed state budget, many school districts will be in danger of making serious cuts to science and math programs. Many districts already have cut art and music programs. Mrs. Russell said the event is an opportunity for people passionate about education to make their voices heard. She said going to Albany is a way to show legislators how many people are engaged and how many people the funding cuts are hurting.

Mr. Boak said across the districts represented by Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, approximately $85 million in state funding has been cut because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

As of Friday afternoon, Mrs. Russell said more than 100 people had signed up to go. Two buses from Jefferson County and one from St. Lawrence County are reserved. Buses will pick people up at two locations to be announced later, one in Watertown and the other in northern St. Lawrence County. Buses will leave about 6 a.m. and arrive in Albany before the 11 a.m. parade. After the parade, there will be a rally. The day will conclude with a march to the Empire State Plaza.

“It’s not too late to be a part of this great effort,” Mrs. Russell said.

For more information or to reserve a seat on a bus, call Mrs. Russell’s office at 786-0284.

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