C-R lobbies state leaders on GEA


By Jim Poole

Tired of being short-changed from Albany, Cobleskill-Richmondville is lobbying some of the state's heavy hitters.
The school board last week passed a resolution calling for state to stop taking school-aid funds to close its own budget gap.
The culprit is the Gap Elimination Adjustment, enacted by Albany four years ago, which has withheld $1.6 billion in aid statewide.
C-R has a share in that $1.6 billion. The district has lost $11.6 million in aid in four years because of the GEA, and is receiving $3 million less this year than it did in 2009-10.
C-R's resolution demands that the state exempt school aid from closing its budget gap and find another way to do so.
The board already sent the resolution to:
•Governor Andrew Cuomo.
•Commissioner of Education John King.
•Catherine Nolan and John Flanagan, chairs of the assembly and senate education committees, respectively.
•James Jackson on the state Board of Regents.
•Senator Jim Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez.
"It behooves us as a board to make sure that the leaders are aware of the damages they have done," said C-R board President Bruce Tryon.
"They need to right the wrong by reinstating the $11 million and discontinue the GEA in this year's budget and future budgets."
Like other school districts, C-R depends heavily on state aid. And also like other districts, C-R has cut staff, services and offerings to students as aid has decreased.
"This cost shift has resulted in unsustainable measures to balance the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School budgets, including the reduction and elimination of school programs, personnel and services, and the reduction of school district fund reserves," the resolution reads, in part.
That's why the school board passed and sent the resolution.
"It is unfathomable to comprehend how the Governor and our elected legislative leaders in education can think how we can survive when they continue to confiscate dollars that legally are obligated to education," Mr. Tryon said.