Fight Back Friday: State budget

If you haven’t contacted your lawmakers in the Assembly or the Senate yet on the state budget, there’s no longer any time to delay. Here’s a link to a Times Union post Thursday about how pieces were starting to fall into place.

School boards and administrators are putting next year’s budgets together and the news is not good. Here’s what’s being proposed in the Southern Tier’s Maine-Endwell. And also in Elmira.

Please contact your lawmaker and the governor, again and again, about funding. NYSUT’s Member Action Center has a whole list of issues for you to take action on.

The impact of three years of cuts has lots of unions, parents, students and community members wanting to do more than just send a letter or make a phone call to their lawmakers.

For those ready to rally, the Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers Association is sponsoring a regional rally for students on Wednesday. It’s from 4 to 6 p.m. in front of the high school at 2292 Saunders Settlement Road.

Kevin Rustowicz, NWTA president, noted that state aid for his district has dropped from funding nearly half the budget to only 40 percent. “That drop amounts to a $17 million gap that has reduced the educational opportunities of our students and increased class size, in some cases dramatically,” said Rustowicz, who teaches social studies at the high school.
Pat Creamer teaches science at the Edward Town Middle School and, as the political action coordinator for the NW Teachers Association, he’s coordinating the rally.  He and fellow science teacher Amanda Jasper are concerned about how much has been lost for their students after years of budget cuts.

Just at the middle school, there have been cuts in foreign language, technology and music. The accelerated science program is now taught by a part-time teacher. Because two 6th-grade teachers and a team of four core teachers for the 7th and 8th grades were cut, class sizes have increased and, worse, the team model that is so important at the middle school level is collapsing. Administrative and clerical staff were also cut at the middle school, which also impacts the support for students.

Add your stories to how cuts have impacted your district in the comments below,  email them to bsandber@nysutmail.org or call me next week at (800) 342-9810, ext. 6283.

Remember, here’s a link to NYSUT’s Member Action Center, where you can send messages to your lawmakers on a wide variety of budget needs.

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2 Comments

  1. Kevin March 22, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Now that APPR has been pushed down the throats of local unions throughout the state, Cuomo has started his push for the next goal: Pay for Performance for Educators. This little nugget was snuck into the budget without anyone seemingly knowing about it, but now it is there. My thoughts is that this is his “Golden Ticket” to get the tax burden on local communities down by eventually lowering base salaries while providing financial incentives for teachers that meet their Student Learning Objectives.

    I was a part of a Pilot Program in Denver, Colorado back in 1998 and do not see any long-term benefits on education. In fact, the only long term benefit that I can see from such a system is the lowering of the tax burden.

    Unfortunately, these changes are being pushed through with very little visible fight from NYSUT and its members. To me, that is a travesty.

    Fight to get rid of APPR, as it does not work to increase the education of our students.

    Fight to get rid of Pay for Performance for Educators.

    Fight to get NY to get rid of the ridiculous curves on our Regents exams, which would truly raise the bar for our students instead of simply stating that we are raising expectations while only inflating the curve.

    Fight to help put the focus on the Families of our children, as they are more of a key to our success than any politician would like to admit. After all, that simply isn’t politically correct.

  2. Dick Iannuzzi March 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    There is much in Kevin’s post that I disagree with and that I have addressed in NYSUT United, on our “Tell It Like It Is” listening tour and in many forums.

    I do, however, want to vehemently disagree with the statement concerning Pay for Performance. I have stated clearly in the past and will continue to maintain that NYSUT opposes any plan — whether called master teacher, pay for performance, or anything else — that is not agreed to by the local bargaining agent through collective bargaining.

    NYSUT continues to advocate for language that any such plan must be bargained locally — which, in fact, several of our locals have done in the past.

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