Take action today by visiting NYSUT’s Member Action Center and faxing your legislators. We need every member lobbying for our kids; it’s fast and easy. Urge the politicians in Albany to restore the $250 million earmarked for competitive grants to the school aid formula. Competition leaves us with more losers than winners, and we can’t afford to set kids and schools up for failure.
Last year, our public schools experienced a $1.3 billion cut in state support and the imposition of a 2% property tax cap. These cuts resulted in the loss of valuable programs and services for kids and the loss of more than 11,400 educators and staff through layoffs and attrition.
Over the course of the last three years, our schools have lost 30,000 educator jobs in New York’s schools. That amounts to almost 10 percent of the entire teaching workforce and 30,000 fewer adults in our classrooms helping children learn.
Although the Executive Budget provides an increase of $805 million, or four percent, for the 2012-2013 school year, it strips out $250 million for competitive grants, leaving only a 2.9 percent school aid increase. Targeting funding for competitive grants is problematic and would create an uncertainty that districts cannot afford. Some districts may not even be eligible for the competitive funding even if they do apply.
In this environment, it is simply unfair to award scarce resources to a handful of school districts when an overwhelming number of school districts have significant resource needs.
Simply put, over-reliance on competitive grants undermines the state’s ability to meet its moral and constitutional obligations to provide an opportunity for a sound basic education to every student in the state.
We ask that the Legislature redirect the $250 million in competitive grants and provide additional funding towards the goal of restoring the $1.3 billion cut in school aid imposed last year. Every dollar in the classroom counts!