ECASB news

Legislators Advocate for Restoration of GEA Aid Withheld by NYS

ECASB Schools Lost $483M Lost to NYS's School Aid Takeback
“More than 1700 jobs disappeared from Erie County School Districts over the past five years, many due to the $482.9 million that has been taken from school districts by New York State in a financial diversion called the ‘Gap Elimination Adjustment’ (GEA),” said Jane Burzynski, Erie County Association of School Boards (ECASB) Director of Programs and Services in releasing a report on the GEA's impact on ECASB member school districts. See the report here.

Several Superintendents and school board members gathered to review the report and meet with WNY legislators to press for elimination of the GEA, which began as a one year attempt by New York State at the start of the Great Recession to help put its own financial house in order. "Since then, it has simply become the annual withholding of school funding," said Mrs. Burzynski.

Senators Patrick Gallivan, Mark Grisanti, and Tim Kennedy and Assembly representatives Jane Corwin, Michael Kearns, Sean Ryan, and Robin Schimminger were on hand to voice their support for elimination of the GEA.  Assemblyman Ryan noted that the GEA's impact is measured by what is happening to students' programs. He pointed out  a life skills program that used to bring students into the community, but due to staff cutbacks students now remain in school for a "cobbled together" training. He spoke of a newly constructed culinary lab that remains pristine after five years, because the staff to run it was eliminated in budget cutbacks. Educators and school board members spoke of students now in study halls instead of taking electives and advanced coursework.

Every school has its GEA impact in the The State of the Schools document. "As you will see, the impact in some districts is more severe than others, but none is untouched and none can sustain an ongoing stream of funding loss. Once people and programs are cut, we can't cut them twice. Districts are running out of places for significant reductions. Districts are running out of fund balance savings. Those 1700 jobs that are gone are the jobs of people who taught, answered phones, compiled reports, coached kids, drove kids, cleaned our buildings, mowed our lawns, and ran our schools. Even when reductions are through retirement or attrition, they are still jobs that are gone and are not there for others. And the people who once had them are no longer there for the kids they once served."

Speakers Lynda Quick, Interim District Superintendent at Erie 1 BOCES, and Scott Johnson, ECASB Legislative Team leader and member of the Sweet Home Board of Education, noted that NYS is now operating with a surplus and with an even brighter financial picture thanks to large cash settlements against several financial firms. "But the financial plight of school districts has not diminished," said Mrs. Burzynski, "it is deeper than ever due to the state's systematic and cumulative withdrawal of funding. Now is the time to restore the funding taken by the Gap Elimination Adjustment - in this budget year. We call on New York State to step up to its Constitutional and moral obligation to adequately fund education for the children in this state."

From Left: Assembly representatives Jane Corwin, Michael Kearns, Sean Ryan and Robin Schimminger meet with ECASB Superintendents and members of Legislative Team at Erie 1 BOCES to discuss GEA elimination. Also present were Senators Patrick Gallivan, Tim Kennedy and Mark Grisanti.  

Legislators say it’s time to bring the funding back:

“The Gap Elimination Adjustment has had a devastating impact on our schools, hurting students and taxpayers across Western New York. We have taken steps to restore some of the funding, but it’s clear more must be done. It’s time to abolish the GEA once and for all and provide fair and equitable funding to our schools.”

– Senator Patrick Gallivan

“I am listening to the school districts that I represent, and this is a very high priority.  I hear the parents, teachers and educators in Lake Shore, Hamburg, Sweet Home, Ken-Ton, Tonawanda, Grand Island, Frontier, and Orchard Park. I am aware of the budget concerns that are happening, I will keep up the fight to accelerate the restoration of funding lost by school districts under the Gap Elimination Adjustment and eliminate by 2016-17.”

– Senator Mark J. Grisanti

“As a mother of three, there is nothing more important than providing our children with an education that affords them a successful future and leaves them with every opportunity to flourish.

“While there are a number of factors that have contributed to the budgetary struggles for school districts, our State government, in lieu of gimmicky property tax ‘rebates,’ and merely putting a patch on the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), must support our schools through direct aid funding and fully paying down this debt.  The GEA essentially allows the State to indirectly ‘double dip’ into the pockets of taxpayers by unevenly distributing taxes through State School Aid, then expecting taxpayers to fund budget shortfalls at the local level as well.

“That is why I am the sponsor of legislation that fully restores the GEA balance of over $1 Billion over two years.  The addition of approximately $518.3 million each year will significantly help restore many district budgets allowing the reinstatement of teachers, courses and extracurricular activities that support a well-rounded education.”

- Assemblywoman Jane Corwin

“It is my top priority this budget year to eliminate the GAP Elimination Adjustment and restore state aid to proper levels.  I commend the Erie County Association of School Boards for their advocacy and will continue to fight for additional funding for our students.”

– Assemblyman Michael Kearns

“For the past five years, school district funding has been adversely affected by the gap elimination adjustment (GEA) that was inserted into the aid formula in the 2009-10 state budget and used to partially offset the state’s $10 million budget deficit.  I voted against the budget that imposed the GEA and my opposition to GEA continues.  Toward that end, I am co-sponsoring legislation, A.8720, that would totally eliminate the GEA from state aid to education calculations.   Although the legislation didn’t pass last session, we were able to reduce the GEA by 37 percent in the 2014-15 state budget.  Needless to say, I will continue my efforts to eliminate the remaining GEA in the next state budget.”

–  Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-C-I Kenmore

Posted on Friday, 24 October 2014 11:29


Bright Ideas at Partnerships Breakfast

College-ready English instruction was the goal of the Lancaster Central School District and Bryant and Stratton College when they began their K-12/Higher Ed. partnership. The success of this program was highlighted at the K-12/Higher Ed. Partnerships Breakfast at UB's Center for Tomorrow for some 70 representatives from area educational institutions. Attendees also learned about the no cost associate degree opportunity provided at Lackawanna High School through its partnership with Trocaire College, Erie 1 BOCES  and Catholic Health, and the College/Career Readiness program for 1st Generation College Students in Niagara Falls City School District, provided through a partnership with Niagara University College of Education Early College/Smart Scholars Program (funded by New York State Education Department/Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation). These and other partnerships will be part of the newly-launched P-16 Partnerships website (take a peek here) which will serve as a resource and database to generate futher such partnerships throughout our region. Pictured above are Dr. Christian Blum, WNY Liberal Arts Program Administrator at Bryant & Stratton, and Tracy Efthemis, Lancaster English 12  teacher, speaking on the Lancaster/Bryant and Stratton partnership. The program was hosted by Promoting Partnerships in Public Education, Inc., the Erie County Association of School Boards, and the WNY College Consortium. Funding for the program and the website was provided through a grant from The John R. Oishei Foundation.

Posted on Thursday, 23 October 2014 12:34


What to Expect After the Elections

Wondering what to expect on the political landscape after the November 4th elections? David Little, NYSSBA Director of Governmental Relations (and soon to be Executive Director of the Rural Schools Association), will discuss the perspectives and possibilities in a Dessert Forum for ECASB members on Thursday, Nov. 20, 7-8:30 p.m. at Erie 1 BOCES. Please register through your Superintendent's Office.

Posted on Friday, 10 October 2014 10:36


Fall Leadership Dinner

More than 50 people attended the ECASB & Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association Annual Fall Leadership Dinner at the Millennium. Highlighting the program were speakers on the topics of school finance and multiple pathways to college and careers. Wayne Drescher, (see PPT here) shared school business manager for Erie 1 BOCES, spoke on 'Schools ' Financial Outlook: The Strange Mix of Politics, Gimmicks & School Finance'. 'Career and Technical Education: A Force to be Reckoned With' was the topic of Erie 1 BOCES CTE Director Michael Capuana and Associate Director Christa McHale (see PPT here), and Erie 2 CC BOCES Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Suzette Benson and Carrier/Lake Shore CTE Principal Brandon Wojcik (See PPT here). Many thanks to our speakers and to Gold Sponsor Hodgson Russ.

Posted on Friday, 03 October 2014 09:06


Law Conference Follow Up Sharing

Below are electronic files from hand outs from several sessions at this year's WNY Education Law Conference. Thank you to our presenters for sharing! The WNY Education Law Conference is an annual program presented by the Erie County Association of Schools Boards and the WNY Educational Service Council, in cooperation with the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association, the NYS Association of School Attorneys, and the SUNY Buffalo Law School.

A Team Approach to Planning and Structuring Capital Projects and Building Sales/Leases- How the Parts Fit Together ... Elizabeth A. Holden, William A. Lundquist, Paul D. Meosky,  Jeffrey W. Stone, and Jeffrey Swiatek, Hodgson Russ.
A roundtable discussion of proper coordination and handling of questions and issues that arise at the front end of a planned capital project or building disposition, including authorization requirements, financing approaches, SEQRA compliance, valuation questions, state building aid and federal tax implications, and construction/architectural contracting matters.

Personnel and Labor Relations: Hot Topics ...
Colleen A. Sloan, Kelly G. Eisenried, Dan D’Amico, Erie 1 BOCES.
Experienced labor relations specialists discuss “hot topics” currently being addressed at the bargaining table and in human resource offices, as school districts struggle to maintain high-quality staff and secure fiscally responsible contracts in the face of unprecedented economic challenges.  Learn about the latest cases before the Commissioner of Education, courts and PERB, as well as recent trends in bargaining in response to changes in requirements under the Affordable Care Act, APPR, etc.

The Affordable Care Act: What You Need to Know and Should Be Doing Now ...   Mike J. Flanagan and Karl W. Kristoff, Hodgson Russ.
Review the most immediate issues presented by health care reform, including the latest play-or-pay rules and the bargaining strategies and approaches you should be considering. 

What a Year in Special Education - A Review of Pertinent Developments That Educators Need to Know! ...
Andrew J. Freedman and Ryan L. Everhart, Hodgson Russ.
Here are major developments in special education law over the last year, including proposed changes to the Special Education Appeal Process, re-analyzing Least Restrictive Environment in the aftermath of two recent court decisions, and the continued legislative efforts to expand tuition reimbursement opportunities for parents. 

Big Issues Faced by Board Members and Administrators - and How to Effectively Respond To Them
John J. Christopher and Jeffrey F. Swiatek, Hodgson Russ. A review of some of the big issues faced by school districts today, including the tax cap and the new tax freeze law, conflicts of interest and ethical standards, confidentiality requirements and effective public communications.

Accommodations in the Classroom and Beyond ...    Jeff Weiss, Harris Beach.
School districts are required to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities during all school-sponsored events. This includes activities in the traditional classroom setting, as well as field trips and extracurricular programs. Learn about your school district’s new and expanding obligations in this cutting-edge area of the law.

Managing Complex Leave
Issues: FMLA, Workers’ Comp., Sick Leave Use and Abuse ...
Brendan Kelleher,  Harris Beach,  and Tony Olivo, Investigative Services Corporate Screening and Consulting Group.
Employees on various leaves cost school districts an inordinate amount annually. Managed properly, however, employee leaves can be reserved for those who legitimately need them. Mr. Kelleher and Mr. Olivo discussed legal obligations and rights regarding employeed leave requests, as well as best practices to reduce fraud and abuse.

Health Issues: Immunizations and Concussions...
Marnie Smith, Harris Beach, with Robert Zayas, NYS Public High School Athletic Association
This session examined legal and practical implications regarding two common student health-related issues: immunizations and concussions. Law and recent cases regarding immunizations and exemptions were reviewed, and "best practices" for concussion managemenat were discussed.

This Year's Legal "Hot Topics" ...
Jay Worona, NYS School Boards Association

Posted on Thursday, 07 August 2014 14:24


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