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Hundreds rallied at Ellsworth Allen Park in Farmingdale Feb. 28, sending a strong message to Governor David Paterson to keep education aid in New York State's budget.

Back in December, the governor proposed multimillion-dollar cuts when he revealed his 2009-2010 executive budget. The decision is a difficult one, he said, particularly because he was one of the strongest advocates for increased education funding while serving in the state legislature.

"The grim reality of our current fiscal situation is that all areas of state spending will have to experience reductions. But I am assured in the knowledge that, even after these actions, New York will still have one of the best-funded education systems in the nation," the governor said in announcing the executive budget late last year.

State legislators, taxpayers, students, educators, small-business owners and labor leaders all took part in the rally, which attracted residents from all over Nassau County, including Manhasset. Shelter Rock Elementary School reading teacher, Geralyn Marasco, mother of two and one of the hundreds at the rally expressing her concern, offered, "I participated in the rally to share my voice as a teacher, mother and a taxpayer. Long Island residents need to be heard that we need our fair share of the State's budget and aide. Marasco placed added emphasis on "fair share."

Ed Vasta, president, Manhasset Education Association, believes, "Now more than ever, this is the time for taxpayers, educators, students, parents and state elected officials to band together around a common cause. Education and taxpayer rallies such as this are a coordinated effort to send a strong message to the governor and all elected officials to guarantee proper funding to public education on Long Island and to help solve New York's budget crisis with fair tax reform."

"Preserving the quality of Long Island's schools is neither a Democratic issue, nor a Republican issue," said Senator Craig M. Johnson (D-Nassau.) "I was proud to join the hundreds that attended this rally as we spoke in one voice to demand Long Island's fair share of school funding. I brought my 7-year-old son Ben to this event so he could see first-hand how seriously we take this issue."

Carisa Giardino contributed to this article.


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