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Westbury High School students press for more state education aid

A group of Westbury High School students traveled to Albany Thursday to appeal to New York lawmakers for additional funding for their district as negotiations over the state budget approached an April 1 deadline.

The 39 students told Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) and other legislators about problems including dilapidated facilities, underpaid teachers and a shortage of after school programs they said could be alleviated with increased state funding.

“Our buildings are in critical condition,” said Jahshua Taylor, 16, a Westbury junior who helped organize the trip. “We’re advocating for the funds to properly run our district.”

Pedro A. Quintanilla, a Westbury Board of Education trustee chaperoning the trip, said the students were seeking a roughly $6 million increase in Foundation Aid funding from the state.

“We are not getting an equitable percentage,” said Quintanilla.

State aid made up about a third of the district’s $145 million budget in fiscal year 2018, according to the district’s website.

Foundation Aid each school district receives is determined by the number of students, local property values and other factors, according to the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan think tank based in Manhattan.

Ramos praised the students for their initiative.

“You keep pushing through,” he told the students. “Don’t let anyone stop you.”

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