Pearl River – In a grass roots show of support for local education, students and parents from across Rockland County today met with Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) at her district office to discuss ways to preserve state education aid from proposed cuts, and also to personally thank Jaffee for her efforts to this end.
“We owe it to our children to protect quality education despite the difficult budget decisions ahead,” said Assemblywoman Jaffee. “The students and parents here today also recognize the importance of funding schools first, and are invaluable partners in this critical pursuit.”
The concerned Rockland residents attending Thursday’s meeting expressed growing alarm with the scope of proposed cuts to state education funding. Parents and students outlined their fears that further state aid reductions could lead to teacher cuts, reduced programs, and classroom overcrowding that harm local students’ quality of learning.
Melissa Neils, a high school student from Chestnut Ridge, cast the danger of school aid cuts in more personal terms. “I have a brother in 9th grade who will rely on many school programs to mature as an adult, and I’m afraid of how school cuts might harm that progress,” Neils said. “Assemblywoman Jaffee understands the real-world effect school cuts will have on students, and we’re fortunate she’s standing up for us.”
Under the Governor’s proposed budget, Rockland County schools are poised to lose over $20 million in funding this year as part of an overall reduction of $1.5 billion in state education aid. This would follow several years of previous state aid cuts and falling school revenues, which have already forced school districts to slash programs and staff significantly.
Against this backdrop of aid reductions, Thursday’s meeting provided the opportunity for Jaffee and local education advocates to both coordinate and redouble their efforts to raise awareness, both in Albany and Rockland County, of the importance of fully funding education, emphasizing its critical role in fostering our economic recovery and job creation prospects.
The citizen-activists assembled on Thursday also offered their support for Assemblywoman Jaffee’s ongoing efforts to support education at the state level. Citing her experience as a former teacher and steadfast commitment to Rockland County schools and students, they expressed their appreciation for standing with them on this issue of mutual concern.
“We must ensure our schools remain world-class centers of learning: Not least for our children’s future, but for the fact investing in education is a proven generator of jobs and economic growth,” Jaffee added.