Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) joined with his colleague, Senator Carl Marcellino (5th Senate District), to address a gathering of school administrators, PTA members and representatives from the teachers union regarding state aid. The two senators were invited to the special legislative agenda hosted by the Harborfields Central School District to discuss the recently approved state budget and the need for schools and local state lawmakers to work together to secure state funding for local school districts.
The meeting was attended by school district representatives from Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Elwood, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Huntington, Northport/East Northport, South Huntington and Smithtown.
"This type of dialogue is so important in helping create the working relationship that is needed to get the funding our children deserve. During the past budget negotiations, we were able to overcome a budget proposal from Governor Spitzer that would have hurt our school districts and we need to ensure that we start the process of working together on next year’s budget as soon as possible," stated Senator Flanagan.
"The responsibility for student performance lies not just with educators, but also with the State. In order to accomplish our common goals it is important that we work together to ensure that our schools have adequate resources to meet accountability requirements and the needs of their students. This cannot be done in a vacuum, it has to be done together," said Senator Marcellino.
At the meeting, Senator Flanagan and Senator Marcellino were lauded by the school officials for their work in securing state aid for area districts. The two legislators were applauded for working with the other majority members from Long Island in fighting to increase Long Island’s school funding. This fight was necessary due to the fact that the budget proposed by Governor Eliot Spitzer had significantly reduced the amount of funding directed to Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Under Governor Spitzer’s initial budget proposal, many Long Island school districts would have seen modest increases that would have continued over the next few years. But as a direct result of the Long Island Senate majority’s efforts, school aid to school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties increased by over $220 million this year. That represented an additional $109 million over the governor’s original proposal for Long Island school children.
Although both lawmakers discussed their pleasure in successfully delivering enhanced funding to Long Island schools, they also took the opportunity to discuss their belief that Governor Spitzer will attempt to shortchange Long Island school districts during next year’s budget negotiations.
Senator Flanagan and Senator Marcellino both requested that those in attendance work with them in the coming months to bring their voice to Albany. They both looked to begin working with the parents and administrators of all regional schools to work together.
"As an educator for 20 years in New York City schools there is no question that protecting and enhancing the educational opportunities for children is my top priority. However, we must ensure a fair and equitable distribution of our resources so that every student in the State of New York receives a sound education. A Robin Hood approach is unacceptable," said Senator Marcellino.
"There is a strong need for everyone involved with the education of our children to join together early to send the message to Governor Spitzer that Long Island taxpayersdeserve their fair share. When he tried to cut our aid this year, we were successful in fighting for our children but we need to make sure that everyone is involved to ensure that our schools continue to receive their fair share of state funding," said Senator Flanagan. "The time for that voice to be heard is now to make sure that Long Island school children are not shortchanged next year."
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