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OpEd: Ossining School Officials Urge State To Help With Education Funding

Ossining Superintendent Raymond Sanchez
Ossining Superintendent Raymond Sanchez Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- The Ossining Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution at its Dec. 16 meeting asking New York state officials to significantly increase funding for the 2016-17 school year so the district receives its fair share of education aid.

Slight increases in state school aid in the past two years have not made up for drastic funding cuts in previous years. New York froze Foundation Aid, the largest education grant to school districts, and implemented the Gap Elimination Adjustment program, which slashed education funding to help close a state budget deficit.

New York froze Foundation Aid, the largest education grant to school districts, and implemented the Gap Elimination Adjustment program, which slashed education funding to help close a state budget deficit.

This school year alone, the Ossining school district lost $676,693 due to the Gap Elimination Adjustment program, for a total state aid loss of $10.8 million since 2010.

The state is shortchanging our district’s Foundation Aid dollars by $12.4 million this school year. Ossining schools are receiving 41.6 percent of the Foundation Aid they are due this year.

As a community, we’ve really been seeking to address what we feel is our right in terms of the amount of foundation aid that we should be receiving.

Twenty percent of the school districts in Westchester and Putnam counties are receiving less state school aid than they did in 2008, and another 28 percent have received increases of 7 percent or less, according to the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association.

The group said school districts in Westchester and Putnam counties have been shortchanged by $430 million in Gap Elimination Adjustment funds in the past six years.

The Foundation Aid freeze has cost schools in the two counties $186 million in 2015-16 alone.

Ossining is one of several school districts in the region that has adopted a version of a resolution proposed by the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association. The lack of adequate funding is compounded by Ossining’s fast-growing student population, especially since the state uses data from 2008 to determine Foundation Aid.

Unlike most school districts, enrollment in Ossining is on the rise, growing by more than 700 students since the 2004-05 school year.

"Adequate and appropriate state funding to ensure every child has access to a quality public school district is long overdue,” the resolution said. “School districts are relying on elected officials to take action to put students ahead of politics and make public education whole.”

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