School districts across New York, including Cazenovia, have been forced to make devastating cuts to educational programs as they adjust to rising costs that are outpacing revenue coming from New York state, thanks to the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). The GEA law was introduced in 2010-11 as a way to close the state’s then $10 billion budget deficit. Under the legislation, a portion of the funding shortfall at the state level is divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid. The GEA has left a hole in many school district budgets — including in Cazenovia — in recent years. In the Executive Budget Proposal for 2014-15, which state lawmakers are currently considering, the GEA is continued. It shows up as a $1.04 million loss of aid for Cazenovia. That’s on top of the more than $5 million the district already has lost to the GEA since 2009. District administrators have met face to face with state legislators, warning them of the impact that insufficient state aid will have on Cazenovia’s academic program. Likewise, the Cazenovia Board of Education on Feb. 24 unanimously passed a resolution that calls on the state Legislature to do away with the GEA. “Whereas this reduction in aid has resulted in a cost shift to the local property taxpayers in the Cazenovia Central School District, and (t)his cost shift has resulted in unsustainable measures to balance the Cazenovia Central Schools budget, including reduction in personnel, services and the reduction of school district fund reserves,” the resolution reads. Now it’s time for Cazenovia residents to let their voices be heard.
What you can do
- WRITE AND CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS: Community advocates must speak up now, on behalf of their students and their schools, or risk losing the high level of local public education that they’ve come to expect. Check out our online advocacy toolkit online, or use this sample letter that contains information specific to Cazenovia. Your state representatives in Cazenovia are Senator David Valesky (478-8745) and Assemblyman William Magee (361-4125) and your governor is Andrew Cuomo (518-474-8390). Please do it today!
- WATCH THIS VIDEO, produced by the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service, which explains what the GEA is all about and how it hurts schools.