A dozen education activists stood on the steps of the State Office Building in Syracuse this morning to demand more funding for the city’s schools.
They represented groups including Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse, the Syracuse chapter of the NAACP, the New York Inequality Campaign and the Alliance for Quality Education.
“We are here today to make sure elected officials put the money into the schools that need it the most,” Parents for Public Schools President Susan Fahey Glisson said.
“How dare you deny students their right to a quality education because of where they live, because of their ZIP code?” said Lekia Hill, lead organizer in Syracuse for the Alliance for Quality Education.
The groups are seeking a $7.7 million increase in operating aid to Syracuse in next year’s budget, plus $1.8 million in pre-kindergarten funding and the abolition of the “gap elimination adjustment,” a mechanism by which the state has withheld funding from schools across New York since 2010 to help shore up the state’s finances.
They presented legislators an 800-signature petition seeking those increases.
The groups noted that Syracuse schools received less operating aid this year than they did in the 2008-09 school year, despite increased enrollment.
In its proposed budget, the Syracuse district is seeking $7 million more than the $2.7 million hike proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget. The district’s budget would be about a 2 percent increase over this year’s spending plan.
The activist groups that rallied this morning are looking for a $1.9 billion increase in education funding statewide.
Legislative leaders in Albany Thursday proposed adding $240 million to Cuomo’s proposal, which would bring the total increase to more than $1 billion, but less than the$1.3 billion the state Board of Regents is seeking.
This year’s statewide schools budget is $20.975 billion.
The Syracuse activists criticized local state legislators for not being aggressive enough in demanding funding for city schools.
“For our city school district children, we can’t wait,” said Patrice Chang of the NACCP. “We need legislators who are going to lead the charge.”
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