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NYSUT Prepares Legal Action, Calls On State Leaders To ‘Stop Cuts To Schools’

Published Wednesday, September 9, 2020
by NYSUT News
NYSUT Prepares Legal Action, Calls On State Leaders To ‘Stop Cuts To Schools’

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - As students return to school this week, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) decried state cuts to education and called on the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to take immediate steps to stop 20% reductions in aid for school districts.

Citing the state Constitution’s requirement to provide every student a sound, basic education, the Statewide Teachers Union that represents 600,000 Members said that it will take legal action against the state if it follows through with plans to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars later this month. 

Those cuts - combined with years of funding shortfalls and the increased cost of operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic - would disproportionately impact high-need, low-wealth school districts and potentially violate students’ right to a sound, basic education.

“No school district or student is immune to the adverse impacts of a (20%) cut to state education aid,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “But what makes this all the more egregious is the disproportionate impact that cuts have on our neediest schoolchildren.  We quite literally can’t wait any longer for action.  In the absence of the federal government finally doing what’s right, the state needs to step in and prevent the decimation of our public education system at a time when needs are higher than ever before.”

As NYSUT continues to advocate alongside State Leaders for passage of the Federal HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, which would provide much-needed stimulus funding for public education and other essential public services, the Union said leaders cannot afford to delay any longer in considering state-level steps to address the fiscal crisis school districts are facing.

Whether it is using rainy day and settlement funds or enacting new revenue raisers, such as taxes on the ultra-wealthy, NYSUT believes the Legislature Cuomo must find a way to stave off significant cuts to schools, particularly as they face myriad new challenges and needs with reopening amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“The solution to this problem can’t be shifting the cuts from district to district,” Pallotta said. “Simply put, New York needs a bigger pie, which State Leaders can create by asking the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share toward public services like education.”

At stake is a reduction of hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid for school districts later this month.  This would disproportionately decimate poorer school districts in urban, suburban and rural communities alike, NYSUT said.

The poorest 10% of school districts receive some 80% of their funding from the state, while the richest 10% of districts receive only 10% of their funding from the state, Union Officials said.

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