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Valley schools to rally for fair funding on March 6

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES will sponsor a rally for education at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, at Herkimer College’s Robert McLaughlin College Center.

“Fight for Our Valley Schools” features guest speaker Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, who will explain how the state’s current funding formula is depriving the area’s students of the high quality education they deserve.

“Herkimer BOCES is sponsoring this event to focus our residents’ attention on the simple fact that our schools are forced to make do with fewer resources than more affluent schools in New York state,” Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua said. “Fewer resources translate into fewer opportunities for our valley’s children. Our kids deserve better.”

The core of Timbs’ message is that the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) has unfairly penalized the area’s students. The GEA was introduced by Gov. David Paterson in 2009-10 as a temporary cut in promised school aid in an effort to help the state close its budget deficit. Five years later, the state’s deficit has disappeared according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but the GEA continues to withhold millions of dollars in promised aid.

Since the GEA’s inception, the state has withheld almost $43.7 million from the 10 component schools that make up Herkimer BOCES.

Adding further insult is the fact that wealthy New York school districts lost a smaller percentage of aid to the GEA.

“We are hoping that the presentation will help area residents understand the inequity of school aid and that the current funding formula and the GEA are forcing districts to cut important academic and co-curricular programs,” Vivacqua said.

We also hope that our event will rally residents to contact their legislators at the local and state levels to push for a school funding plan that does not penalize a child because of where he or she lives.”