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Latest headlines across Western New York

Education funding

Study says needy schools still being shortchanged by state

A new analysis shows that 81 percent of New York’s high-needs schools are not on track to receive the full allocation they are entitled to as part of the settlement in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case.

The study, released Monday by the Alliance for Quality Education, shows the shortfall most severely affects 205 school districts – including Buffalo and Jamestown, which are highlighted in the report – that are still owed a total of $2.8 billion.

The alliance has been fighting for years to recover the money owed to schools as part of the settlement in a court ruling that found New York does not provide many poor students with their constitutional right to a basic education.

In 2007, the state came up with a new funding formula to comply with the court ruling and did so for two years. But then it stopped making payments during the recession. During that fiscal crisis, many schools also sustained dramatic cuts that essentially reversed the effects of the payout from the lawsuit.

The alliance now wants the state to come up with a new plan to comply with the court settlement that would gradually increase aid to the affected districts over the course of no more than three years.


Wind power tax exemption is targeted by Town Board

SOMERSET – The Somerset Town Board has decided to take advantage of a provision in state law that allows local governments to prevent wind power projects from obtaining property tax exemptions.

The town is one of the proposed sites of the Apex Clean Energy wind turbine development. The Barker and Lyndonville boards of education and the Town of Yates previously rejected the tax exemption called for in state law.

However, the law doesn’t prevent local governments and school districts from making their own deals with Apex for payments in lieu of taxes. The Virginia-based company has signaled a willingness to make such payments. However, public opinion in both Somerset and Yates, as measured by post-card surveys of property owners last year, is heavily against the project.

city mission

Shelter gets grant to teach literacy to homeless adults

The Buffalo City Mission has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to support the literacy programs in its Adult Education Program.

The Buffalo City Mission offers courses in literacy, Microsoft Office programs, pre-college English and math, English as a second language, financial literacy and job preparedness in four semesters. Clients enroll in at least four educational classes, receiving six hours of instruction per week.

“This generous grant ... (will) provide adult literacy instruction to homeless individuals participating in the Buffalo City Mission’s long-term recovery program,” said Stuart Harper, Buffalo City Mission chief executive officer and executive director. “Illiteracy keeps people in poverty due to a lack of marketability for higher paying jobs. Becoming a literate adult is crucial to escaping a life of poverty and homelessness.”