In two recent columns in The Buffalo News on school aid cuts, the writers, Philip G. Altbach and Richard Reeves, contended that the cuts proposed by the governor due to the state's current $1 billion shortfall are unfair and will harm any efforts to improve schools in New York State.
Mr. Altbach claims that "recent reforms have been accompanied by only modest fiscal increases." What these columns did not mention is that school districts throughout the state have received massive increases in aid over the past decade -- increases so large that taxpayers may wonder why it is not possible to hold the line on spending now.
It's interesting to think that some people consider an increase of more than 88 percent over the last eight years, more than double the rate of inflation, a "modest fiscal increase." To take a look closer to home: since 1982-83 the Buffalo city schools increase in state aid has been about 108 percent.
To provide another perspective on Sag Harbor and some information that Mr. Reeves left out: Sag Harbor is about four times wealthier than an average school district and has not been adversely treated by the state over the years. Since 1982-83 Sag Harbor has received about a 62 percent increase in state aid, still above the rate of inflation.
The cuts that Gov. Cuomo has proposed amount to a fraction of the aid increases granted earlier this year. In fact, statewide, the proposed cuts in school aid amount to less than a one percent budget cut for more than two-thirds of all school districts.
MARGARITA S. MAYO
Educational Affairs Manager
Business Council of New York State