South Colonie School District in collaboration with nine Capital Region school districts will be gathering with state legislators at Columbia High School in East Greenbush for a Forum on Sustainability of Schools on Thursday, Jan. 30 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the school auditorium.
The event was developed in an effort to start a conversation with New York State legislators concerning the decline in state aid to local school districts and the long-term impact this could have on students and the education they are provided.
Each of the 10 school districts participating in this event has received the minimum in Foundation Aid from the state in recent years. (Foundation Aid is one of the two major sources of revenue for school districts. The other source is local property taxes.)
For example, South Colonie CSD received an additional $121,826 in Foundation Aid for this current school year, an increase of just 0.0075, which is less than the rate of inflation. South Colonie CSD would have received an additional $274,516 if the Foundation Aid had kept pace with inflation.
Meanwhile, basic mandated needs continue to grow such as English as a New Language, Mental Health support and Special Education. Those increasing services require additional teachers, more support staff, and updated programming, which all add to district costs.
The legislative budget process decides the amount of Foundation Aid for each school district. In the era of the Tax Cap, when the legislature decides that the growth of Foundation Aid will be below the rate of inflation, school districts cannot raise local taxes to compensate and keep pace with inflation. There is no choice but to reduce expenditures, which means cuts or reductions in staffing, academic electives, and extracurricular programs.
“This is a great opportunity for our school community to learn more about this concerning trend we’ve seen in recent years regarding state aid,” said Jonathan Buhner, superintendent of the South Colonie Central School District. “We hope that this is the start of an important dialogue with our representatives that will result in additional state aid for our districts to ensure that we continue providing quality educational programming for all of our students.”
Legislators who have committed to attending the event so far include Senator Neil Breslin (44th District), Assemblyman Jacob Ashby (107th District), Assemblyman John McDonald (108th District), and Assemblyman Phil Steck (110th District).
Audience members will be able to ask questions of their state representatives during a Q&A. The event program will also include brief presentations on topics such as basic school finance, increasing needs for students, and the challenges created due to current state aid amounts.
Students, parents, teachers, and staff from each of these school districts are invited to attend this public event.
Forum on Sustainability of Schools
A conversation with New York State legislators concerning the decline in state aid to local school districts and the long-term impact this could have on our students.
Thursday, Jan. 30 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Columbia High School Auditorium, 962 Luther Rd., East Greenbush, N.Y., 12061