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Video of Jan. 31 education advocacy forum available

Bethlehem leaders, educators, parents and community members are joined representatives from 47 area school districts on Thursday, Jan. 31, for a forum entitled, “Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril – Running Out of Time & Options.”

Watch the video below of Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium Dr. Rick Timbs' presentation and click on the links for more information. 

Click here to view the presentation given by Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium [PDF].

Click here to view the video shown after the presentation.



Bethlehem stakeholders to attend education advocacy forum

Please note: if you would like to watch the presentation, it will be streamed live at the Education Speaks Blog.

After the loss of nearly $12 million in state aid over the past four years, Bethlehem leaders, educators, parents and community members are joining representatives from 47 area school districts on Thursday, Jan. 31, for a forum entitled, “Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril – Running Out of Time & Options.”

The event, to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Columbia High School, East Greenbush, will illustrate the magnitude of the crisis collectively facing all schools unless significant action is taken during the 2013 New York State legislative session.

A focus of the event is to advocate for the elimination of New York State’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a reduction in education aid used to balance the state’s budget.
The Gap Elimination Adjustment has reduced the total amount of state aid BCSD has received since the 2009-2010 school year by about $12 million. The 47 school districts joining force on January 31, representing more than 112,000 students in two counties, have lost over $110 million in state funding this school year alone due to the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment.

Because of its retroactive nature and the fact that it is rarely brought up when the governor is discussing school finances, the GEA is an often overlooked part of the school-funding problem. The GEA law was introduced in 2009 by then-Governor David Paterson as a way to help close New York’s then $10 billion budget deficit. Under the legislation, a portion of the state’s deficit is divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid. The GEA is a negative number, money that is deducted from the aid originally due to the district based on the state’s aid formula.

“Dealing with the Gap Elimination Adjustment, the so-called ‘tax cap’ and a lack of leadership on mandate relief has put Bethlehem and districts across the state in danger of compromising the excellence they have achieved and removing any potential for improvement,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas J. Douglas. “These are the hurdles the Bethlehem Central School District must overcome to continue to offer its students a premier educational experience.”

Joining Forces

Since districts throughout the region face a similarly dire financial scenario, the purpose of joining together as one on January 31 is to:

• Draw regional attention to the looming fiscal crisis facing all public schools and warn of another round of unpopular to untenable school budget cuts forecast for 2013-14.
• Help our elected state representatives understand their responsibility to act with urgency to adequately and equitably fund public schools and deliver on the promise of mandate relief.
• Inform and energize influential stakeholder teams in the 47 school districts served by Questar III and Capital Region BOCES, and catalyze grassroots advocacy in communities all around the region.

Headlining the forum is Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, who will discuss the importance this legislative session of eliminating the GEA, providing adequate and equitable aid to education, and providing a meaningful measure of mandate relief to school districts.

Following Timbs’ presentation, leaders from three demographically different school districts – suburban Guilderland (Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles), Schenectady City (Superintendent Larry Spring), and rural Schodack (Superintendent Bob Horan) will offer their personal perspectives on how failure to act in Albany will continue to harmfully impact their students next school year, and for years to come.

What’s next?

Following the January 31 forum, district stakeholders from across the region will be asked to take the next step and mobilize by the hundreds (perhaps thousands) by advocating for change with the elected leaders serving their communities. To help them in that process, the Niskayuna Central School District will host a second forum at 7 p.m., Monday, February 11, at Niskayuna High School to teach effective advocacy strategies and techniques. Joining us will be Robert N. Lowry, Jr., Deputy Director for Advocacy Research & Communications, for the NYS Council of School Superintendents (NYSCSS). 

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