Assemblyman Billy Jones: State Needs to Focus on Public Education

While the Executive Budget proposal includes important measures to help public education, it also includes an unprecedented amount of support for charter schools. This includes eliminating the regional cap on New York City charter schools and allowing agencies to reissue charters granted to schools which have closed. Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) joined educators and lawmakers from across the state to express his concerns about this part of the Governor’s budget.

“New York needs to focus on making sure our public schools have all the resources they need and remove the elimination of the charter school cap from the budget,” said Assemblyman Jones. “While this isn’t a direct cut to school aid, eliminating the regional cap and allowing charters to be reissued will lead to funding being diverted from public schools. The state needs to continue to invest in public education to not only make sure that our children get the education they are entitled to, but to also make sure that faculty, staff, and administration have the support they need to do their jobs. The budget should focus on mental health services, community school programs, and employee retention as all school districts experience a workforce shortage.”

"Saranac Central is a successfully operating public school who prides itself on being a public school,” said Michele Bushey, Living Environment Teacher at Saranac Central High School. “One that welcomes all students and works diligently on developing close relationships with every family. There is no question that it takes a critically important and serious level of funding to successfully operate a public school. With regard to the potential lifting of charter school caps in New York State, as an educator seeing the value of every public school dollar, I cannot imagine asking our community members to pay a far greater amount in order to fund a private charter school with their hard-earned tax dollars in addition to financially supporting our public school whose costs will not noticeably lessen. Assemblyman D. Billy Jones recognizes the accomplishments that happen every day in our public schools, and we genuinely appreciate his steadfast support of public schools and his dedication to improving lives for all north country families.”

“Our public schools, particularly in the North Country are community hubs,” said Dwight Stevenson, Social Studies Teacher at Saranac Lake High School. “I think about schools throughout the state for which the divestment of public funds for private charter profits would be detrimental.”

“Charter schools get to hand-pick the students they work with, create their governing boards with no community input, and are not held to the transparency and accountability that public schools are,” said Angela Trombley, Special Education Teacher at Franklin Academy. “Yet, they are funded by tax dollars taken from public schools.”