Gray Urges Community Support to Reinstate School Aid in Face of Gov.’s Budget Proposal

Assemblyman Scott Gray (R-Watertown) attended a press conference in Albany today to share concerns about the governor’s Executive Budget proposal ending the provision of “hold harmless” and the subsequent reduction in school aid for certain school districts statewide. The press conference was led by members of the Assembly Minority Conference, Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District Superintendent Timothy Mundell, Averill Park School Board of Education member Michelle Garofolo and education stakeholders.

“This is not merely a matter of political discourse, it’s a genuine concern resonating with parents, teachers, school administrators and the entire community. The impact on our communities, especially in rural districts, is profound, putting essential resources for student success at risk,” Gray said. “Five districts in Jefferson and five in St. Lawrence counties would receive a reduction in Foundation Aid based on this proposal: Alexandria, LaFargeville, Lyme, Sackets Harbor, Thousand Islands, Canton, Hammond, Morristown, Madrid-Waddington and Ogdensburg.”

“The consequences of deep cuts to Foundation Aid for some schools means laying off mental health counselors, compromising school security, cutting special needs programs and impacting the ability of rural schools to offer advanced programs. Nearly half of the school districts in the state will be affected by this proposal, at a time when our school districts are still grappling with the aftermath of Covid, including mental health decline and learning loss—not to mention the rise in expenses due to growing rates of special education, addressing staff shortages and closing the academic gap. Now is not the time to add additional burdens. Further, with the substantial growth in the state budget this year, there’s no justification for cuts in any school district. The basic function of government is to provide quality education to our children, and we cannot compromise on that fundamental responsibility.”

“What it really comes down to is that it is not fair for local property taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden facing many schools resulting from the state’s ineptitude to adequately fund the Foundation Aid formula. I have already had conversations with Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty A. Rosa regarding concerns about the formula implementation and change in the inflation factor calculation, but I will not stop there,” Gray concluded. 

Gray encourages community members to sign the Assembly Minority’s petition to urge New Yorkers to unite in their calls for the governor to stop short-changing New York’s students and reinstate school aid.