U-E Superintendent: State shortchanging students

By Perry Russom

U-E Superintendent: State shortchanging students

March 6, 2014 Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 12:54 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Union Endicott Superintendent Suzanne McLeod said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is using plans for Universal Pre-Kindergarten to distract the state from cuts to education aid.

She used the analogy of a magician using sleight of hand to distract the audience of what they’re getting.

“The governor’s proposed budget to Union-Endicott is simply insufficient for the needs of the children of this district,” said McLeod.

The second draft of the 2014-15 budget was presented Wednesday night totaling $76 million. The district was able to shave off $700,000 from the first draft by renegotiating prices.

"Without adequate funding, we simply have to scale back what we've done, what we have in the district to the bare bones," said McLeod.

In the upcoming school year budget, the state is proposing for U-E $26 million in aid. Of that aid, $3.2 million would be taken back by the state in the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

That money is used to fill the state’s education budget. McLeod said they have never had a GEA less than $3 million.

To stay within the district’s maximum allowable tax levy of 2.82 percent, the district still needs to cut $670,000 from the current budget draft.

To do that, the district is proposing to eliminate the programs they restored in 2013-2014. That totals nearly $500,000 and includes extended day and additional programs for students, professional development for teachers. That still leaves about $170,000 needed to be cut.

“I don’t know what else we can cut from the students,” said McLeod.

In the question/answer section at the end of the presentation, one man asked if the district can afford to cut personnel rather than programs. McLeod said the district has already cut 100 positions in the in the past five years.

McLeod asked the community to call their state representatives to ask for more money from the governor.

There will be a third budget workshop in early April. By then, the district will have a definite answer on how much funding they will be getting from the state.

McLeod stressed the importance of taxpayers to call their state officials asking for more money for education. She ended the presentation on a slide that provided the contact information for Cuomo, State Sen. Tom Libous and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.

“I am extremely hopeful that our community and our legislators are able to get it for us,” said McLeod.

The budget goes up for a vote in May.