Education Equity Tour Wants $4 Billion Increase To New York School Aid

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – As advocacy groups continue to pressure Albany on various causes ahead of this year’s state budget, a statewide educational equity tour made a stop in Syracuse, last week. A collection of local officials and other advocates said New York’s schools are underfunded by $4 billion.

State Sen. Rachel May with state Sen. Robert Jackson. TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA

The New York State Assembly, Senate and governor, have to come to an agreement on the budget. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a billion dollar increase in school aid this year. Some legislators are trying to get that number closer to $1.6 billion for the next three years. Central New York state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) said particularly in the Senate, they need to insist this is a top priority and not back down.

“Partly because so many of us who got elected and created that majority got elected on this issue,” May said. “This is absolutely critical to us.”

May was joined by state Sen. Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan), both of whom are serving their first terms as senators. Jackson was part of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in 1993. That led to a court ruling in 2006 that said the state was not fulfilling its constitutional duty.

“We need to raise the pressure on all of the legislators,” Jackson said. “People need to call their Assembly member and let them know how important education is. People need to call and email and text and buttonhole Rachel May, Robert Jackson, every state senator, the governor, and let them know how important it is that we fund our education.”

Advocates with the Alliance for Quality Education said Syracuse schools are owed $45 million, which they said is especially needed, because the city has the highest concentration of poverty in the state among minority children.

“What would $45 million buy?” Jackson asked. “More teachers, more guidance counselors, more social workers, more intervention specialists, more after school programs, all of the things from a holistic point-of-view of education.”