Syracuse residents weighed in on the city's proposed budget at a public hearing Wednesday evening. Nearly two dozen people took to the microphone to voice their opinions. As our Katie Gibas reports, more than half are concerned about cuts to education funding.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Educators are pleading for financial help to support pre-Kindergarten. Funding constraints only allow a small percentage of children to attend the city's full day pre-Kindergarten program, others are in half day or no Pre-K at all.
"They come into Kindergarten. They're already behind and they never catch up," said Margrit Diehl, Community Education Advocate, and a founder of advocacy group, "Parents for Public Schools."
Since 2009, the mayor has included a line in her city budget's Say Yes to Education funding specifically for full-day pre-Kindergarten. Universal Pre-K advocates say that line isn't in the budget this year, and while the superintendent says there won't be any cuts to the program, education advocates say they're worried about its future. That's why they pleaded with the common council at the budget hearing Wednesday to restore the funding.
"It's been proven again and again that this strong foundation pays off. They stay in school. They're able to continue to continue on and graduate. Studies have even shown that it raises IQs up to 15 points," said Diehl.
Pamela Percival, a "Parents for Public Schools" Board Member added, "We count on the council to have an historical view and also future-oriented view and to really invest not just in what our schools need now, but looking forward what would service in the future."
Common Councilors were pretty tight-lipped about their changes to the Mayor's proposed budget.
"I think there's a general feeling among the council to provide maybe more monies to certain programs that serve the poor, the elderly and our children. Obviously to be fiscally prudent, we want to make sure that we identify revenue in order to fund any kind of programs that we might discuss or put forward," said Pat Hogan, (D) Syracuse Common Council.
Lance Denno, (D) Syracuse Common Council added, "There's some creative thinking going on and the ability to use money in an investment fashion as opposed to simply an expenditure fashion is one of the things we are considering along those lines."
Common Council members will deliver their version of the budget to the mayor in the next couple days.