Help Put An End To The GEA

To The Reader’s Forum:

New York state denied $86 million to the children and economy of Chautauqua County, in public education funding from 2010-2015, because of the “GEA.” The 27 school districts that make up the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES were denied $186 million in five years pushing towards “academic insolvency.” This is a New York state-wide problem.

Help save our schools. Contact your state representatives and tell them to end the GEA now and distribute adequate and equitable funding for public schools.

First, end the GEA. The New York State Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007 is a law enacted to provide adequate and equitable funding to school districts, with a formula and plan to stabilize school funding for several years. The GEA is the reduction of that legal obligation. With state revenue shortages in 2009-2010, the state’s budgetary “gap” was “eliminated” by deflecting the shortage unto school districts and the local taxpayer. “Adjustments” to school Foundation Aid is the gap elimination adjustment, or GEA.

New York state has not increased school funding in five years! They merely ‘reduced’ the reduction. School state aid is at pre-2008 levels causing cumulative unrecoverable deficits. The 2010-2015 GEA: Sherman $1.87 million, Panama $4.6 million, Fredonia $9 million and Jamestown $14 million. These real dollars were made up by cutting programs, staff and using fund balance, schools’ emergency and contingency savings – which is nearly exhausted. Single digit budget increases equal double digit local tax levy increases; the state has placed the burden on the local communities and it is unsustainable.

Every business must understand; the financial stability of our school districts has a direct impact on the local economy, especially in rural communities.

Every parent, grandparent, and community member needs to know these significant cuts to programs not only impact students today, but many will be ill prepared for college; making college acceptance more difficult. The GEA means a disadvantaged future (for us all), by compromising educational opportunities for an entire generation.

Secondly, distribute funding adequately and equitably. The New York state Constitution guarantees “the right of every student to a sound basic education.” There are disparaging differences between aid needed and aid received. The variance of dollars spent per student around New York state can be anywhere from $13,000 to $38,000; while a few students have access to five to seven foreign languages, most schools can barely offer Spanish up to ‘Spanish 2.’

Tweet Gov. Cuomo @NYGovCuomo; C. Young @SenatorYoung; A. Goodell @andygoodell; and use the #NYSchoolsInPeril.

Call or email your legislators: Senator Catherine Young, 716-372-4901, cyoung@senate.ny.us; Assemblyman Andy Goodell, 716-664-7773, GoodellA@assembly.state.ny.us; and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, 716-373-7103, GiglioJ@assembly.state.ny.us.

Colleen Meeder

Sherman