Dec. 12, 2012
A committee of concerned Mayfield residents is urging their neighbors to push lawmakers to fix the state’s inequitable state aid distribution formula.
Earlier this year, a group of community members formed the grassroots committee to shine a light for lawmakers and the public on the financial crisis faced by the Mayfield Central School District. Committee members plan to attend district events in the coming weeks – starting with the holiday concerts on Dec. 13 and 20 – to urge parents and community members to write their elected state officials, demanding fair funding for Mayfield schools. Download sample letter here.
“We have heard the governor say that 2012-13 state education funding was increased by 4 percent, but that doesn’t mean Mayfield, and other districts, received a 4 percent increase,” Mayfield Advocacy Committee Chairwoman Joan Scannell said. “State education funding is distributed based on a formula that does not treat districts equitably, and Mayfield is getting shortchanged.”
According to Mayfield Superintendent Paul Williamsen, Mayfield will lose 1.4 percent, or $142,000, in state aid next year if the current formula continues into next year. Additionally, should the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) continue, the district would lose another $1.65 million in state aid.
For the last three years, school districts, including Mayfield, have had money deducted from their awarded state aid totals through a mechanism called the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Originally proposed by Gov. David Paterson as a “one-time fix,” the GEA is a calculation that allows the state to reduce aid to public schools in order to help fill the state’s budget gap. No longer a short-term solution, the GEA is now a part of state law.
“We will face many difficult decisions over the next few months if these state aid reductions again become a reality,” Williamsen said. “I applaud the Mayfield Advocacy Committee for their work in raising awareness of the issues.”
Based on projections for the 2013-14 school year, Williamsen says the district currently faces more than a $560,000 gap between expected revenues and expenses. The district has been no stranger to budget gaps over the last several years. Since 2009-10, Mayfield has lost more than $3.4 million in state funding, resulting in the elimination of 31 district staff members to balance its budgets.
“Cuts to core programs, kindergarten, art, music, etc. may be the only place left to cut in order to balance future budgets,” Scannell said. “Local community members must speak up on behalf of the students now so they can receive the education they deserve.”