School leaders and parents rally for more education funding
You may have heard an old hit song if you were driving around Elmira Heights Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t an 80's dance party that was taking place. As YNNs Crystal Cranmore shows us, hundreds were making noise for more education funding from the state. The theme song says it all, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
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ELMIRA, N.Y. -- School leaders, parents and students in the Elmira Heights School district want politicians in Albany to know that they’re “not gonna take it anymore.”
The rally aims to shed light on the struggles districts are facing across upstate New York.
“The whole purpose is really to come together as a community, as a greater community, and really have a voice, to make the folks in Albany recognize this is a significant problem, and we are serious about it,” said Mary Beth Fiore, Elmira Heights Superintendent.
Elmira Heights has faced numerous challenges including a 20 percent cut in staffing and diminished programming. School officials said increasing pension and health insurance costs, coupled with the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) make it difficult to keep up. Within the last three years, the district has lost $5 million through the GEA.
“We also have the tax cap to deal with as well, and when you look at trying to stay within those limitations, it’s almost impossible to maintain the quality schools that we have,” said Fiore.
The issue has many people in the community on edge about the future of education.
“We all want our children to be able to have a future and right now the future is unknown,” said Alex Melville, a parent of a first grader in the district.
“All of our kids deserve the same amount of funding and all of our kids deserve an equal opportunity,” said Mary Anne Sheets, a librarian at Thomas A. Edison High School.
“My younger siblings go here and I don’t want anything to ever happen to my school even though I don’t go here anymore,” said Sarah Bryant, a former student.
While the school district has looked into sharing services with nearby Horseheads to save money, Superintendent Fiore said it's important for the district to be self-sufficient.