Some lawmakers want state education debate to focus on ending gap elimination adjustment

Feb 2, 2015

Some New York state lawmakers would like the conversation about education reform and funding to focus on getting rid of the gap elimination adjustment. State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) is one of those who wants to repeal the state’s formula for cutting some funding for local school districts over the last few years.

Ritchie, who represents Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, recently conducted a survey of her constituents and found that 75 percent believe the gap elimination adjustment should be repealed. The fund was initiated during the height of the recession to decrease the state’s $10 billion budget deficit.

“Our schools have been cutting costs as much as best they can and many of them, especially those in my district, are in real financial strain,” Ritchie said.

The Senate has put forward several budget proposals already, the most recent one proposing an $812 million increase in funding for schools, which is higher than the governor’s proposal and lower than the Assembly’s. The Senate’s plan also includes $150 million in tax credits for contributors to public and private schools and $145 million for schools outside New York City for universal pre-kindergarten.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made education reform a top priority in his State of the State Address, has proposed a series of reforms, including changes to teacher evaluation system.

The governor said districts will get more money only if legislators pass all of his proposed reforms. Local school officials, teachers unions and other education interest groups have spoken out against Cuomo’s proposals.