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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Adversity and Cooperation

This Blog entry continues with the theme this week of Read Across America, an important focus on reading and a tribute to Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel).

The first quote is from the Dr. Seuss book, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollow.

I learned their are troubles
of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat.
I'm all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
to have troubles with me!

I'm certainly not advocating for "might makes right" or any aggressive response to anyone in opposition with an idea or opinion I might have. Instead, I would substitute the bat for truth, facts, and what's right. Public schools have had to endure a relentless economic attack in New York in the form of what's referred to as the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

When the state was confronted by a budget deficit the governor and legislature turned to the state aid for public schools to make up the deficit in what was expressed as a one-time dip into funds intended to support public schools across the state. Hence the term, Gap Elimination Adjustment. That one-time reach into the cookie jar continues to this day. In that time, our small school district has been deprived of over 1,600,000 dollars that were expected to be distributed to our system. Despite significant staff and program cuts, the community had to absorb the loss through successive annual tax increases to prevent further reductions and eliminations. In district after district, community after community, taxpayers have experienced a shift in the percentage of revenues from the state's responsibility (less) to the local taxpayer (more).

Our Governor is now boasting of a two billion dollar surplus, yet we are still being strangled by the Gap Elimination Adjustment that was designed to bridge a deficit in the state budget. I guess we are supposed to be happy that instead of losing $357,603 through the GEA, we are only losing $336,184. Wow, we lose $21,419 less than we were scheduled to lose. I can assure you we are not jumping for joy...

I am hopeful, like all other superintendents and school board members, that "right" will prevail. That is, if there's no deficit then there should be no need for the GEA. I am hopeful that enough people, voters and legislators, will see the truth and understand the facts and the state aid will be restored so public schools can enhance instruction and promote the hopes and dreams of learners everywhere.

But, this effort will more likely succeed if there is coordination and cooperation among school districts instead of competition for scarce resources in times of economic peril. That brings me to another Dr. Seuss quote, this time from his book, The Lorax:

Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.

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