UTICA - William Lynch, Fulton City School District superintendent and New York State Association of Small City School Districts president, testified at the Governor's New York Education Reform Commission hearing recently at the Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.
Lynch asked the commission to consider school funding reforms to correct the large student performance gap between poorer and wealthier districts. He named insufficient targeting of state aid as the most pressing issue in New York public education. Lynch stated that New York is ranked the 6th worst state in education funding equity and low performing schools spend nearly $2,000 per student less than schools designated as successful by the state education department.
Lynch said $5 billion in education aid cuts since 2010 have exacerbated the problem by disproportionately hurting districts with higher student need and lower community wealth. He noted that small city school districts rely on state aid for a greater proportion of their budgets and thus last year's cuts took almost twice as much from these needier districts as from average wealth districts. Small city school districts as a result have had to make cuts to staff and programs.
Dr. Peggy Wozniak, Binghamton City School District superintendent, attended the August meeting with commission members and said for students attending higher need schools, addressing education reform without confronting funding issues ,"Would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."
The commission, chaired by Richard Parsons, was created by the governor to review teacher performance, new technologies, mandate relief, parent involvement and possible efficiencies as ways of improving student performance without increasing spending.
The association represents school districts in the 57 small cities throughout the state, including Dunkirk, Jamestown and Salamanca, which serve more than 240,000 children and 20,000 teachers and staff. Small city school districts contain nearly 1.5 million residents and more than 60 percent of the urban students outside of New York City.