Fighting for Fair Education

By Kelly McCarthy

February 2, 2013 Updated Feb 4, 2013 at 12:09 PM EDT

Trumansburg, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Legislators gathered in a Tompkins County elementary school for breakfast and a big discussion.

School board members were invited to express their concerns and ask any questions about this year's New York State School budget.

Members of the Central New York School Board Association want to know if the schools in their district will be getting more money.

It's a financial battle fought year after year.

"The money that's spent isn't spent in a fair formula either. Poor districts do not get their fair share of state aid, middle income districts are not getting their fair share of state aid," said Barbara Lifton, (D) NYS 125th Assembly.

Four legislators attended the breakfast event.

Along with Barbara Lifton was Thomas O'Mara (R) NYS 58th Senate, Philip Palmesano (R) NYS 136th Assembly and Christopher Friend (R) NYS 137th Assembly.

"Myself, the other legislators that are here, want to make sure that we're getting a fair distribution of the equity of the funds that are there," O'Mara said. "So that the districts that need it get it, as opposed to the districts that are wealthier and may not need it as much."

A concern shared by everyone in this auditorium.

If the funding doesn't come, it's the students and teachers who will pay the price.

"We're under-funding education and when we under-fund education poor schools get hurt the most because the distribution formula doesn't work well enough," Lifton said.

Governor Cuomo's recent state budget proposal increases education aid by 4.4 percent.

A small step that isn't fully welcomed by those in the classroom.

"I think you could pick up a little frustration, more than a little frustration with the Governor," Lifton said. "I heard it said that he doesn't really understand public education, that they don't like the tone that the Governor expresses in terms of public education, he's not respectful of schools and teachers."

Legislators didn't leave without saying they would continue to fight for equal funding.

"It's good to be able to sit, and confront and have a dialog with these individuals so that they know that we're fighting for these issues that are of great concern to them and concern to our students in all of our districts," O'Mara said.

What starts as a discussion could end in more funding.

The Legislative Breakfast is an annual event hosted by the Central New York School Boards Association.

This year it was held at Trumansburg Elementary School.