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Parents, stakeholders say Cuomo's school aid proposal falls short

Ashley Hirtzel

Local parents, students, and community members say Governor Cuomo’s proposed increase in school aid isn’t enough. The group gathered at Citizen Action of New York and Alliance for Quality Education headquarters in Buffalo Wednesday to discuss their concerns with the plan.

In the proposed executive budget, Erie County schools would receive roughly $24 million more this year than they did last year. The proposal calls for an average 2.4 percent increase in school aid in districts located in Erie and Niagara Counties. But, several local districts would actually see an average 1 percent decrease in aid.

Parent Angelica Rivera says the budget falls short of the money needed to properly educate students. She says they are asking the Governor to increase aid by $1.3 billion statewide, as several state legislators originally proposed.

“As a mother, as a parent it’s disheartening to hear that our Governor doesn’t care enough to adequately invest in our children and in our future. The truth of the matter is that public education is grossly under funded, through the years we have seen cuts to programs vital to the success of our children,” said Rivera.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Angelia Rivera (L) and Maria Marti (R)

Rivera says they’re calling on the Governor to support the Campaign for Fiscal Equality, which aims to close the opportunity gap between rich and poor schools and provide students with a “sound basic education.”

Parent Maria Marti says students' needs are not being addressed

“They don’t have the resources that they need when it comes to reading. The afterschool programs are not available in all schools and when they are available in schools they’re only funded for half a year. The arts, the music, the sports, the college prep, and opportunities for community engagement our children lack those resources, but when you look into the richer neighborhoods they have that,” said Marti.

Marti says students in low income districts deserve the same opportunities as those in wealthier districts.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Citizen Action of New York & Alliance for Quality Education call on Governor to increase school aid.

Citizen Action Board Member Gayla Thompson says the city has a world class medical corridor that students will not be able to take advantage of, because of the lack of educational funding.

“In order to bring those students to their greatest potential we need additional funding. We need money for our language learning students. We serve over 50 languages in the Buffalo Public Schools. We have students struggling with math and science, however if you have music and art it helps connect the circuits in the brain so that you do well in math and science,” said Thompson.

Fifth Grader at School #81 Brayden Lane says students are feeling the effects of schools operating with minimal resources.

“When I grow up I want to be an artist, musician, and a scientist. I like watching sports, but playing sports is better, but my school doesn’t have the real music, sports, or after school programs so I can do those things. It’s a good looking school, but looks don’t teach us education,” said Lane.

Lane said western New York schools need more funding for students to thrive and the Governor can do more to help.