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Hundreds March to Demand State Budget Aid to Restore School Programs

Hundreds of parents, teachers and community leaders today urged state lawmakers to address a growing gap in funding levels between rich and poor school districts across the state. The rally for public education was held during the noon hour at the State Capitol in Albany.

“The Parade for Public Education” kicked off at the Washington Avenue Armory. The promenade was led down State Street by the Cohoes High School marching band. More than 1,000 people rallied at the West Lawn of the Capitol. Speakers at the rally called for adequate and equitable funding for schools. Advocates expressed that their schools are in crisis and cannot afford a fifth straight year of cuts.

NYSUT President Dick Ianuzzi: "Today is about kids. We have an audience filled with kids. They're here looking to be sure that their education is a well-rounded education. That the resources are provided for them. This is about why we really have education. It's not about testing and not about just passing the time. It's about creating the future. But we can't create that future unless the governor and the legislature are providing the support we need."

Angelica Rivera is a mother of two who made the trip from Buffalo: "If we don't fund our schools, these kids are not going to be able to provide for us in the future like we need them to."

"My own family? I can give you an example. They went to go sign up for school last year. There's only one three-year old program in the city. That's hundreds of kids trying to get into one school. And they don't have it.  There's only a few quality good programs in pre-K and I'm still waiting to find out if they can get into one of them, and they're competing against hundreds of kids."

Advocates are calling for $350 million in additional school aid distributed fairly and equitably based upon student need, as well as $203 million in Fiscal Stabilization Funds, proposed by the governor, to be distributed equitably through either the Foundation Formula or the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

In addition, the Alliance for Quality Education and New York City participants are calling for restoration of $260 million that is threatened to be cut from the New York City schools because the mayor and the union have yet to successfully negotiate a teacher evaluation system. The advocates are awaiting a response from the Cuomo administration.

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.
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