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Concerns Over Child Poverty, Education in Schenectady

Schenectady joins Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica on the list of most impoverished school districts in New York State... Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

U.S. Census data from the bureau's Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program shows 50.8 percent of children of all ages in the city of Schenectady live in poverty, a line drawn at income of $22,300 or less for a family of four. That figure, representing an 11 percent increase from the previous year, has propelled the city into the top 10 impoverished districts in the state.

Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, is troubled by the numbers.  Capital District Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Rocky Ferraro is alarmed but takes an optimistic stance.                       

Ferraro advises Schenectady to consider the future.   School Superintendent Larry Spring believes the city needs ot rethink the way it is dealing how it addresses the prevalence and intensity of poverty among school-age children.

As a young man, Senator Hugh Farley did his practice teaching in Schenectady when it was one of the most highly-regarded small city school districts in the United States. He says shifting demographics have become a major problem for the school district. 

Farley points out that education aid depends on the state budget, which will be revealed in January.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.