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Fighting For School Funds

Restore state high-tax to this year’s levels. That’s the most important message that the Farmingdale School District’s Legislative Action Committee tried to get across when members of the committee recently traveled to Albany to present the Farmingdale School District’s 2013-14 legislative proposals. According to Farmingdale School District officials, Governor’s Cuomo’s proposed budget would remove $1.4 million in high-tax aid to Farmingdale.

“That’s a big number considering we have a 2 percent tax cap,” said Assistant Superintendent for Administration Barbara J. Horsley. “We’re asking, just return the high-tax aid. Just make it what it was.”

Horsley added that while Farmingdale is fighting for its fair share, it’s an issue that affects many Long Island school districts. 

She said that of the $50 million in high-tax aid removed from Governor Cuomo’s executive budget, $37 million of it comes from Long Island. And while efforts are being made to stop this cut in this year’s budget, there is also concern for the future.

“We’re worried that it’s a trend,” said Horsley, adding that programs could be at risk if Long Island continues to see a decline in aid from New York State.

The Legislative Action committee consists of students, teachers, administrators, community members and members of the Board of Education. Horsley said that committee members go to their lawmakers in the fall and when more budget information becomes available, a group travels to Albany to meet with lawmakers representing Farmingdale as well as members of the Education Finance Committee. Horsley said that in addition to getting Farmingdale’s message to state officials, the committee also is a learning experience for students who participate on it. Farmingdale School District Superintendent of Schools John Lorentz said that Farmingdale students well represented the school district.

“The Legislative Action Committee is dedicated to representing the pressing needs of our community,” said Lorentz,. “Our students were able to listen to their peers, faculty, and administrators, and create succinct and well thought-out proposals for the legislators they met with.”

The committee also proposed to legislators an agenda requesting additional educational funding from the state and federal governments. One aspect of their discussion emphasized the importance of ‘Teacher Center Programs.’ Students urged legislators to continue funding the program because of its core principles, which emphasize teacher mentoring and staff development. The main objective of the program is the enhancement of student learning, the foundation of any educational system.

Budget discussions are now underway, and a budget must be adopted by April. The next school board meeting will be held this Thursday, March 20.