These are challenging times for most New York schools. Buffeted by declining state aid and mounting property tax fatigue, school districts are struggling to maintain educational programs with fewer and fewer resources. As chair of the Senate Education Committee, I fought hard to avert devastating mid-year cuts to state education aid in 2009, affording school districts an opportunity to plan for the difficult fiscal year ahead. But with a projected budget deficit of $9 billion, the grim reality is that education funding, like virtually all areas of state spending, will experience reductions this year. So what can we, as state legislators, do to help our schools weather the prolonged economic downturn?