Tonawanda News

Local News

November 21, 2013

Advocating for education


Tonawanda News — Grisanti sponsored a bill that would prohibit unfunded mandates from being imposed after a school district has adopted a budget, Curella said.

“It’s common sense. When you sit down at your kitchen table and do a budget, you don’t say after, ‘let’s plan a trip to Hawaii’ when you have no money for it,” he said.

Another bill, co-sponsored by Grisanti, would only allow mandated programs if they are funded by the state.

Curella also noted other ways districts can raise money to meet state standards and preserve programs. Another state bill, for example, would allow school districts to sell advertising on school buses and outside athletic fields.

“That’s something we would like to do to allow a district to raise a little extra money,” he said.

But many of the bills need more support in the education committee and both houses to pass the state legislature, and that’s where Ken-Ton residents could come in. Some attendees suggested lobbying the chair of the education committee to advocate for such measures.

In closing, Curella applauded the group for their efforts.

“Maybe other school districts will follow your lead. Ultimately, it is going to help the kids out,” he said.

Although officials began some legislative efforts themselves about three years ago, Dana said he and Brooks started the new group recently, after local politicians held a Summit for Smarter Schools at Kleinhans Music Hall last month. 

“That really kicked off a lot of things here in Western New York,” Dana said. “It showed you that people were listening and that people were concerned. We said, ‘let’s use that energy and educate everyone about what the real concerns are, and what can be done about it.’” 

Issues discussed Wednesday included overreliance on state testing. Although many district officials are concerned about the new standards and time allocated for the difficult exams, Ken-Ton — as well as legislators — support standardized testing.

The district is firmly against opting out of the tests, as well, as it could further jeopardize state funding.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.

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