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Students add their voices to protests against governor’s school aid proposals

On March 18, the Iroquois School District community rallied in support of restoring greater control of the school from the state government. People all over the state have been expressing their frustrations with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s school aid proposals.

Iroquois is not the only school being affected by this issue. School districts such as Hamburg, Lake Shore and West Seneca also have held rallies to bring attention to their displeasure with the gap elimination adjustment.

“The gap elimination adjustment is something that came out to balance budgets in 2008 during the financial crisis,” said Iroquois social studies teacher James Moch. “Since then, we’ve had a $5 billion surplus in state budgets, and the GEA was supposed to be temporary, but it hasn’t been done away with yet.”

The gap elimination adjustment has cost the Iroquois School District more than $13 million, which has caused a decrease in the funding of programs. Some of the programs that have been eliminated are the academic and career center in both the high school and middle school, elimination of late bus runs providing access to after-school academic programs as well as a reduction in multiple academic areas such as library services and Regents review classes.

“Crucial programs at our school have been cut because of the budget,” said Iroquois senior Jillian Rider. “I don’t want the grades below me to have any other programs taken away from them in years to come.”

Districts are receiving much less money now than in 2008. East Aurora has lost the highest percentage locally in state funding – approximately 16 percent. Iroquois has lost close to 15 percent, with Depew trailing close behind with a loss of 14 percent.

“Our government isn’t giving us funding that we need,” said Iroquois junior Drake Meaney. “I think that public schools have a right to get proper funding and it shouldn’t be overtaken by charter schools.”

Another issue brought about at these rallies is the state’s timing of the release of information to school districts on the amount of money they will receive as they prepare their budgets for next school year. School districts are doing their best to balance the budget without being informed of how much funding they will get from the state.

“I truly don’t know why the state runs haven’t been released,” said Iroquois Superintendant Douglas Scofield, “What I think Gov. Cuomo fails to realize is that we start presenting [our budget] to the public in February and start formulating programs based on the funds we receive.”

Iroquois, among other schools, will continue to rally for their right to state funding.

“I think this is a good opportunity to get the voices of the students heard and to show how much we truly care about our education,” said Iroquois junior Amanda Popovski.

Nina Bracci is a senior at Iroquois High School.