Who's Doing What About the GEA?
The "Gap Elimination Adjustment," New York State's supposed one-time budgeting maneuver to pull back funding from schools in order to balance its own budget, has become a yearly budgeting practice, not just a one-time fix in time of fiscal crisis. As school districts lay off staff, cut programs and close buildings, what are your legislators doing about stopping the GEA and preserving your local schools? Here's a quick summary:
Sen. Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger are co-sponsors of bills (S6539, A8712) that would require the state to pay down the GEA. Under these scenarios, for most districts, the GEA for the 2014-15 school year would be halved, and the GEA for fiscally distressed districts would be zero. The GEA for all districts would be zero in the 2015-16 school year.
Senators Mark Grisanti, Michael Ranzenhofer, Timothy Kennedy, and Catherine Young are co-sponsoring bills S5452 and S5452 and Assemblywoman Jane Corwin is sponsoring bill A8295, different bills that aspire toward the same goal: requiring NYS to "pay down" the GEA over three years.
Assemblymen Robin Schimminger and Michael Kearns are co-sponsors of a bill (A8720) that would repeal the GEA for the 2014-15 school year, and thereafter.
Wondering where your representative stands on the GEA? Here is legislator contact information to find out, and to let them know where you stand, too.
Posted on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 12:08
300+ Rally to 'Do Away with the GEA'
NYS Funding Maneuver Siphons $ From Schools
(See Rick Timbs PPT here)
"You number more than 300 strong, from some 30 school districts across Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties and by the end of tonight, you will know more than most of your friends and neighbors about why programs and staff members have been disappearing from your districts over the past few years," Kenton Superintendent Mark Mondanaro told the audience in the Kenmore East High School auditorium as he opened the Rally to Do Away with the GEA. " You will know why New York State’s method of funding, or more accurately, DE-funding of your schools has led to diluted programs and higher LOCAL taxes in our communities as we have tried to make up for what the state has taken away."
Statewide School Finance Consortium Executive Director Dr. Rick Timbs then opened a series of graphs and charts explaining the Gap Elimination Adjustment and illustrating exact dollar amounts it has siphoned from area school districts. He pointed out that our area school districts have taken a harder hit than other, wealthier areas of the state, AND he tied in specifics about how WNY schools also get the short stick on Foundation Aid. Giving real life examples of GEA's impact on students and their education were Depew Superintendent Jeff Rabey, Lake Shore Superintendent James Przepasniak and Business Administrator Dan Pacos, and Kenton Superintendent Mark Mondanaro. The school officials reported a litany of programs, services, and staff positions that have been reduced or eliminated as districts have tried to close the state funding gap, and still stay within the state's Tax Levy Cap restrictions.
Without the state restoring funding, the outlook for area districts is grim, the speakers said. Dr. Timbs noted that while NYS touts state aid increases to schools, in reality, the state continues to withdraw money through its Gap Elimination Adjustment maneuver. While it seemed an essential move in time of fiscal crisis, it has since become a five-year budgeting move that has taken away $8.5 billion in school funding and returned it to the state to balance its own budget. While NYS now has a surplus, districts are "dying on the vine," it was noted.
Posted on Friday, 28 February 2014 11:20
Restore GEA Funding Cuts
GEA Elimination Resolutions:
Cheektowaga Central Resolution
Cheektowaga Sloan Resolution
Cleveland Hill Resolution
Erie 1 BOCES Resolution
Grand Island Resolution
Lake Shore Resolution
North Collins Resolution
Orchard Park Resolution
Sweet Home Resolution
West Seneca Resolution
GEA Response from WNY Delegation:
Senator Michael A. Ranzenhofer letter to ECASB. Senator Ranzenhofer represents the districts of Akron, Amherst, Clarence, Sweet Home and Williamsville.
Posted on Friday, 17 January 2014 10:44
Awards Nominations Now Open
Nominations are now open for the annual ECASB recognitions for the Diana R. Miller Service to Education, Laura M. Burns Advocacy for Children, and Hodgson Russ Excellence in Collaboration awards. Nominations must be received by March 17, 2014. Please click here for the award descriptions and list of past honorees. The awards are given at the ECASB Annual Dinner Meeting in June.
Posted on Monday, 06 January 2014 09:50
Prospective School Board Member Workshop
The Erie County Association of School Boards invites potential school board candidates to meet over coffee and a light breakfast to learn about school board service from school attorneys, superintendents, and both new and veteran school board members. Learn what it's like to run for office and what it's really like to serve on a school board. Hear about the election process, school boards and the law, the importance of the superintendent-school board relationship, and more.
Posted on Monday, 27 January 2014 11:49
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ECASB Superintendent says Albany must provide leadership to implement Common Core Standards.
Read about it here.
ECASB District Resolutions re NYS Assessments:
Kenton School District
Springville GI School District
Sequestration and Your Schools: Click here for Q&A from the National School Boards Association
Issues & School Fiscal Updates...ECASB 2013 Legislative Breakfast Report.
This is the contact information for State Senate and Assembly members representing ECASB member schools districts
School Boards Speak on Sequestration
Buffalo Board of Education resolution on sequestration
Projected Impact of Sequestration on Sweet Home Schools
This information will be presented to Congressman Brian Higgins office during the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network in Washington, D.C.
Click here for ECASB letters to Federal Representatives regarding Sequestration
See below for Federal Representatives Responses to ECASB (Effective Dec. 5, 2012)
Congressman Brian Higgins
Also, see the Springville Griffith Institute's Nov. 14, 2012 Sequestration Resolution urging "Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness."
ECASB Testimony to Education Reform Commission in Buffalo
ECASB members at the Governor's Education Reform Commission Public Hearing in Buffalo were Linda Hoffman (Erie 2 BOCES), Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora), Scott Johnson (Sweet Home) and Jane Burzynski (Exec. Director). All submitted written testimony, Jane spoke before the panel. Topics and excerpts:
P-16 Educational Leadership Consortium:
"Our request to you, as a Commission, is to be aware of how hard people are working for continual improvement to our educational system, and to be aware that continual improvement is unlikely without sufficient funding. To the end, we hope your work and recommendations can be aligned with those of the Mandate Relief Council. Our good intentions will come to naught without funding to support the technology, research, staffing and data needed for their implemantation."- Jane Burzynski (Executive Director)
"This is not a request to discontinue everything. Management should not be allowed to remove contract items just to get an agreement. All we ask is to level the playing field so that labor is not making money for just standing still. Relief from this one mandate would have such a significant effect on all school budgets. It will help us keep teachers and support staff instead of laying them off, it will allow us to maintain programs, instead of cutting them." - Scott Johnson (Sweet Home)
"The Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) requirements have been described as “the greatest unfunded mandate schools have ever seen.” The time, staffing, and processes required are an enormous lift for schools already working with reduced funding ... The massive amount of student testing as schools compile data and documentation also comes at a cost which must be absorbed by school districts. The State wants it, but the State does not have the money to pay for it ... We understand that the intention is to assess and improve learning, but the good intentions must be supported by funding ... the “side effects” of many of today’s mandates are threatening the existence of public education as we know it." - Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora)
Property Tax Cap Without Mandate Relief: "This is gonna kill us ..."
A property tax cap, without accompanying mandate relief, will be lethal to area school districts, Erie County School Board members were told at the 2011 ECASB School Finance Academy. "You've got a gun pointed right at you," warned Mike Ford, "This is gonna kill us." Sharing data from the Statewide School Finance Consortium, Mr. Ford, who is Superintendent of central New York's Phelps-Clifton Springs School District, spoke to more then 60 area school board members at the program entitled, "The Storm is Here."
He noted that Erie County school districts are not high wealth. "At tops, you are average," he said, referring to Amherst and Williamsville. When state aid to schools was reduced, he said, wealthy districts (Long Island area) lost less than 5% aid, but less wealthy districts lost as much as 28%. "The poorest districts got clobbered last year by gap elimination," he said. "Look where your region was, you got hit very hard by that gap elimination." Less wealthy districts suffer most because state aid funds a much greater percentage of their budgets. Because more money is lost, local taxes go even higher in poorer districts asthey try to make up the gap.