Most schools in New York are feeling the pain of budget cuts, but the ones in rural, low-wealth districts have taken an unfair share of it, upstate reps complain.
But to change the dynamic, options are few. One of them is to appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose budget prerogatives are vast and whose popularity is high.
That's what a group of upstate senators have done in a letter released today.
"While wealthier schools debate whether to curtail one of a multitude of foreign language offerings, arts or extracurricular activities, our schools struggle mightily to meet basic educational needs," the letter, signed by Sens. Patty Ritchie, Joe Griffo, Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous and 12 other Republican senators.
Mr. Cuomo, for his part, has not shed much light on his position regarding school aid funding disparities.
You'll notice that all 12 senators who signed on to the letter were from upstate areas. Majority Leader Dean Skelos, of Long Island, is CCed.
School aid is primed to be a major, if not the most major, issue of the 2011 session. But there won't be a huge fight over the total amount of money given to all the schools combined. That's already set, with a 4 percent increase signed into law last year.
What's left outstanding is how much money each school will get. Rural reps believe that the current formula is unfair, and one study bears this out.
"These rural school districts are confronted with a number of factors that make it increasingly difficult to provide the quality education that students deserve and taxpayers expect. ... As you prepare your Executive Budget for the coming year, we urge you to consider the plight of our rural schools," the letter states.