COLUMN: Assessment on utility bills to continue; gun law to be challenged; competitive grants

— While extended learning time and full-day pre-k would presumably help children, I question this method of distributing school aid. I'm not alone. The New York State Association of Small City School Districts President Bill Lynch submitted testimony to the Joint Legislative Hearing on the Executive Budget for Elementary and Secondary Education last week. You can read his testimony here: scribd.com/doc/122856276/Fulton-school-Superintendent-William-Lynch-testimony-on-budget. Lynch is also the superintendent at Fulton City Schools.

The testimony reads: "It should be noted that these laudable programs, while promoting student achievement, involve considerable commitment of additional resources and thus highlight the main problem facing failing districts: chronic under-funding. Moreover, we are concerned that the State is adding new initiatives while not funding the general operating aid necessary to provide a sound basic education to the most vulnerable students across the state. Additionally, competitive grants are highly unpredictable and winning these grants often involves spending considerable time and resources by an already stretched school district. Many of our small city school districts lack the internal staffing capacity to compete for these grants."

Education aid is too important to be awarded in this fashion. Further, while the total amount of education aid is proposed to increase, we are still in need of an equitable state aid formula.

As budget talks are underway, I look forward to sharing more about our how our state tax dollars are managed in this space and hope to hear from you as well.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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