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Letter: Don't rob schools to fill state budget gap

An empty classroom at the start of a

An empty classroom at the start of a three day weekend at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach. (Nov. 10, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

The article "Hudson Valley schools fighting financial 'death spiral' " [News, April 3] does a good job describing the financial challenges facing school districts in New York.

The recently passed state budget certainly mitigates some of those challenges, with a nearly $1-billion increase in aid to schools. School boards thank lawmakers for the much-needed funding, especially in such a tight economy.

The sad reality is that even with the extra funds, many schools are still hurting. State funding in some districts is barely up to 2008-09 levels, and at the same time, pension and health costs are rising. The biggest culprit has been the state's "gap elimination adjustment," a fancy term for budget cuts. The adjustment has reduced state funding for schools by billions of dollars over the past four years, to help fill the state's budget gap.

The best way to end school budget woes would be to get rid of the "gap elimination adjustment," so that schools can stop laying off teachers and cutting programs that benefit students.

Timothy G. Kremer, Latham

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association.