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March 21, 2014

Locals to protest Senate's proposed ed funding

Educators, parents plan to rally at Sen. Betty Little's Plattsburgh office this evening

PLATTSBURGH — Local parents and educators are speaking out against the treatment of public-education funding in the State Senate’s 2014-15 budget proposal.

Saranac High School teacher and New York State United Teachers Political Action Coordinator Michele Bushey, in collaboration with other educators and parents, has organized a rally for this evening in hopes that Sen. Betty Little will hear their many concerns.

The event will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. at Little’s Plattsburgh office, located at 137 Margaret St.

The Senate’s proposed spending plan is “alarming,” Bushey said, as it calls for increased funding of private, charter institutions at a time when public schools are in financial crisis.

“They’re asking to really shortchange our public schools extensively,” she said.

‘SCHOOLS BOXED IN’

Thousands of positions and valuable programs have already been cut from public institutions across the state as a result of revenue shortfalls, Bushey noted, and many schools can’t afford to lose more.

The proposal, she added, also advocates for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Real Property Tax Freeze initiative, which would make the state’s existing tax-levy cap permanent and offer a rebate to taxpayers whose school districts stay within their limit.

The legislation, Bushey said, would likely make it even more difficult for schools to get the 60 percent voter approval needed to exceed the cap.

“What they’re doing is boxing in schools,” she said.

As a taxpayer, Bushey noted, she understands the importance of keeping taxes in check. However, she also knows the importance of giving children a quality education.

“Investing in our children’s education is an investment in the future of our state,” she said.

‘A DISCONNECT’

The teacher fears that, if enacted, the proposal would force schools to cut further into educational offerings, including Advanced Placement and College Advanced Placement courses, which many universities look for their applicants to have completed.

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