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Curran to Cuomo: Budget Places Hardships on School Districts

NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran asks governor to restore funding to local school districts.

Curran to Cuomo: Budget Places Hardships on School Districts

New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran is fighting hard to restore some of the state funding that was cut from the Long Island school districts he represents.

On Monday, a YouTube video was released depicting Curran and five other Republican assemblymen from Long Island campaigning for Long Island schools to get their "fair share" of education funding from New York State. The clip encouraged residents to sign a petition that would be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

One day later, Curran -- who represents Baldwin, Lynbrook, Malverne, Rockville Centre, South Hempstead and parts of East Rockaway, Franklin Square, Freeport, Hewlett, Oceanside and West Hempstead -- also sent his own lengthy letter to the governor. Here's what he wrote:

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Making sure our children receive a top-notch education by our public schools remains a top priority of mine. And I know you share a similar mission; you said exactly so in your 2013 State of the State Address. I believe such a commitment deserves more than just words.

Governor, your proposed 2013 Executive Budget has negatively impacted several public school districts in my Assembly District. With a lack of this state funding, it becomes harder and harder to safeguard the future of our children when educational needs are unable to be met.

Right now, your budget proposal penalizes children for living on Long Island. Under your Executive Budget, New York City is receiving $129 per student. Adding in upstate communities – many which saw increases in state aid – districts are receiving $119 per student. Yet on Long Island, we are only receiving a mere $66 per student!

Governor, these figures are unconscionable, especially for Long Island which has always prided itself in its public education.

Specific to my Assembly District, while some school districts such as Baldwin, Hewlett-Woodmere, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre and Valley Stream #20 have received modest increases, several have been unfairly reduced. I am asking for your assistance in restoring funding to these school districts, not only to assist our children’s education but also help the districts from passing along increases in the form of higher taxes and increased budgets to area residents and businesses.

The East Rockaway School District, which is undertaking massive efforts to rebuild post-superstorm Sandy after its schools were flooded, is busing children to a neighboring school district that can accommodate them and their teachers on top of their own students. East Rockaway is in dire need for an increase in state funding to cope with the disaster’s increased costs. Residential properties and school buildings were both flooded and wiped out . This community needs as much assistance as possible. It’s sad and unfortunate that you from last year. While building aid was reduced, high-tax aid to this hardworking was pummeled down by -70%, from $575,562 last year to a mere $172,668 in your proposal. I would ask that this be immediately remedied for the district and our mutual constituents.

Baldwin, another community that sustained massive flooding, wind damage and already suffers from a high-rate of commercial vacancies and closed businesses, received an embarrassingly small rise in their school aid to deal with the storm’s damage as well. The 0.56% increase in total school aid is surely not enough. While this district receives an increase as oppose to others which do not, the small change is negligible. For equity, a change in this amount is necessary; it will not only help for building aid but will additionally assist in the high taxed community with a poor economy.

Oceanside, yet another community that was all over the news post-Sandy for the superstorm’s utter destruction in the community, also received a startling reduction in aid. While I’m uncertain who crafted your Executive Budget, I don’t understand why they would choose to penalize school districts whose schools had to close because of the widespread flooding and damage; many facilities are still undergoing remediation as we speak. In your proposal, Oceanside also received a startling -$669,564, or -3.91% reduction in state aid including massive cuts in both building aid and high tax aid.

While West Hempstead was spared the amount of devastation seen in these three other communities within my Assembly District, the school district also faces more difficult times – and even moreso with your -3.93% proposed reduction in state aid. Inexplicably, your proposed high tax aid is an enormous decrease of -$364,141 to West Hempstead Public Schools.

When our districts need help the most, your Executive Budget has reduced both building and high tax aid to my districts. Our communities – both children and home-owning taxpayers – are irreparably harmed by these proposed cuts. Not only does ensure they are not receiving their fair share, but your Executive Budget places undue hardships on many districts facing significant challenges and increased costs after superstorm Sandy.

A restoration of funding in your budget would not only abide by the Foundation Aid Formula, but allows taxpayers in my Assembly District – who already send a disproportionately high amount of tax dollars to Albany – to get their investment in our public education back.

I know that we can work together to ensure these school districts receive their fair share. Not only do I ask for their immediate funding restoration, but I look forward to meeting with you to discuss its necessity. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

BRIAN F. CURRAN
Assemblyman – 21st District

What do you think of Curran's letter? Tell us in the comments section below.

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