Tonawanda News

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March 21, 2013

Niagara-Wheatfield hopes to get Cuomo's attention with Wednesday rally

Niagara-Wheatfield hopes to get Cuomo's attention with rally

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Fired up by speakers like McMonagle, the crowd chanted several calls for the end of cuts to school district aid made by the state in the last few years. 

Cuomo and lawmakers announced a tentative state budget deal Wednesday that increases spending on education by $1 billion over the present year, when lawmakers added $890 million to school funding from 2011-12 levels.

But they also attacked the unfunded mandates passed down by the state education department, like some of the standardized testing.

Concerned parent Gina Terbot said providing the education students need doesn’t involve all of the test scores that chart progress in today’s system.

She said she’d withdraw her child from every state test if she could.

“Education is a team sport,” she said. “Every teacher, every person in the Niagara-Wheatfield School District has helped shape my daughter into what she is today. She is more than just a test score.”

Aside from the unfunded mandate relief, which the state has been promising for years with little coming back in results, the district is also facing another major financial hurdle concerning one of its schools it technically can’t classify as its own.

The district funds the Tuscarora school on the reservation and is supposed to receive money from the federal government – filtered through New York state – to keep it running. To accomplish this, a loan is taken out and the money is then used to pay the loan, plus interest.

But two years ago, the money stopped coming from the state, School Board President Steve Sabo said. And the district is now more than $7 million in the hole there as well. And it needs to be paid every year with or without the reimbursement available.

“We have to take out a loan to pay this,” Sabo said. “That money comes out of paying for programs. So we’re demanding New York pay up.”

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