Assemblywoman Russell: North Country Schools and Taxpayers Need Education Restoration

June 29, 2010

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) said: “Right now, our school districts are laying off teachers, cutting programs and making up for budget shortfalls with property tax increases. The Assembly led the way to restore $6.6 million to North Country schools, an action that was vetoed by the governor. I have been in constant discussion with my school superintendents and they have stressed to me the need for these restorations, not only for the continued quality of our education, but to help protect our local taxpayers. I am urging my colleagues to override this veto.”

Quotes from local school superintendents:

Elizabeth Kirnie, Superintendent of Norwood-Norfolk Central School said: “The children in our rural, low-income district are not less worthy of a quality education than those in districts that are less reliant on state aid. They must come first in every decision. At NNCS we appropriated fund balance of over $300,000 to minimize the burden on our taxpayers. The restoration of $252,000 in funding would allow us to replace some of that fund balance. This is our safety net for the future funding cliff. ”

Timothy M. Vernsey, Superintendent of Schools for the Ogdensburg City School District said: “The proposed restoration on education aid is an important step in helping school districts cope during this recession. The district may now be able to restore critical positions in the area of student support services (i.e. counselors, school resource officer, librarians) and our long standing Gifted and Talented Program that was slated for elimination may be able to continue. In addition, this restoration will help the district decrease the proposed tax levy increase of 5.9%, which is much higher than we wanted to propose in the first place but had no other options with state aid reductions. I would like to personally thank Assemblywoman Russell for advocating for the education of all New York State students and particularly the children of the North Country. While I believe the full funding of Foundation Aid should be a continuing goal, any help in restoring some of the education aid cuts will go a long way towards ensuring that the students of the Ogdensburg City School District receive the education they deserve in a setting that is safe and offers crucial student support services.”

Jay Boak, District Superintendent for Jefferson-Lewis BOCES said: “The Boards of Education and Superintendents of the eighteen (18) district comprising the Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES are sincerely appreciative of Assemblywoman Russell's efforts to restore funding to local schools. It is unfortunate that these funds have been eliminated from the Executive budget. School districts in our region are among the poorest in New York State. They rely on state aid to provide basic services to students. We support the restoration of the foundation formula for calculating aid to public schools. This would ensure equity in providing programs to all students across the state. Strong educational systems are the backbone of our economy. They provide the foundation for creating businesses and jobs.”