A letter from Board Member Darren Sneed:
Dear Niagara Wheatfield School District Family,
The Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) is one of the major reasons why Niagara Wheatfield is what the State Comptroller’s Office considers as being in Fiscal Stress.
What is the GEA? The GEA was introduced in 2010 with the intent being the reduction of states’ 10 billion dollar deficit. The GEA was created through Legislation. A portion of the state’s funding shortfall would be divided among the States School districts and would be reflected as a reduction in the amount of Educational Aid provided to each district. Yes, the GEA are funds that are deducted from the original Aid that was promised to each district based on state aid formulas. In other words, it’s “Here is the money that we are giving you. We should be giving you more but this is what you are going to get”. Since 2010 until the end of next year the District has lost $22.1 million due to the GEA.
The State went from a 10 billion dollar deficit to a projected 5 billion dollar surplus. There is no reason to keep the GEA alive and now is the time that the GEA must be eliminated. Over the last 5 years we have been greatly impacted with the loss of education funding resulting from the GEA. This impact, in my eyes, has been detrimental to our students in the form of the reduction of personnel (jobs), educational programs, increase of class sizes, cut in services and extracurricular activities. That is why I am asking each of you to contact your elected state leaders and let them know how the reduction of state aid has affected you and our district.
There are only two ways to generate revenue by a school district, receiving state aid and through property taxes. We are not asking the state for anything extra, we are asking for what is due to us. Governor Cuomo has built a surplus off of the back of the school district/community and now it’s time for the state to do the right thing: fund public education the way it’s supposed to be funded by law. If we do not speak, we will not be heard.
Thank you in advance for contacting your state leaders and informing them how we feel about the financial predicament the GEA has put us in. Your action is greatly appreciated.
Darren M. Sneed
Board of Education MemberWe encourage you to send a message to our elected officials on behalf of the students of New York State:Sen. Robert G. Ortt62nd Senate Districtemail address: email@example.comDistrict Office175 Walnut Street, Suite 6Lockport, NY 14094Phone: 716-434-0680Fax: 716-434-3297Albany OfficeLegislative Office Building, Room 815Albany, NY 12247Phone: (518) 455-2024Fax: (518) 426-6987Assemblyman John Ceretto145th Assembly DistrictEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgDistrict Office800 Main Street, Suite 2CNiagara Falls, NY 14301Phone: (716) 282-6062Fax: (716) 282-4226Albany OfficeLOB 320Albany, NY 12248(518) 455-5284A letter from a Community Member:Dear Senator:I am a resident of the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District. A District that has once again been named one of the most fiscally stressed districts in the State.The continuation of the Gap Elimination Adjustment is crippling our school districts and our communities. Our students need your support as a representative in Albany. In public schools across the state, as well as here in Niagara Wheatfield, there is concern that our students are being limited in their education programming both now and for the foreseeable future.Without a change in Albany that will provide equitable and adequate funding for schools and meaningful mandate relief, districts will need to continue to cut staff, programs and fund balances. Our schools are running out of time and options. We need your help to end GEA NOW! Please approve Bill S 2743 – 2015, An ACT to repeal subdivision 17 of section 3602 of the education law relating to eliminating the gap elimination adjustment.After five consecutive years of cuts to staff and programs, extracurricular, sports and more, eroding state aid and increasing mandates threaten even deeper budget cuts in the coming year. Without swift and significant change in the way New York State supports public education, Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District, along with many others, will continue to have compromised educational opportunities for children.The Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) has depleted the resources available to school districts. Since the first GEA assessment to the Niagara Wheatfield District alone has lost approximately $20 million dollars and will continue to lose these resources in the future. Do Away with the GEA.I deeply appreciate your anticipated support of our schools. Our children need you. It's not just their future . . . it's ours too.Sincerely,Lorna Tilley-Peltier