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Salmon River joins fight for equitable school funding

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FORT COVINGTON - The superintendent of the Salmon River Central School district announced at a Monday night board of education meeting that the district is now a member of two statewide groups aimed at getting an equitable distribution of wealth to rural and underprivileged school districts.

Jane Collins said the district is now a member of the Rural Schools Organization and the Statewide School Finance Consortium. She said the necessity comes from drastic state aid cuts in the last three years totalling about $4,269,969. That equates to $3,882 per pupil.

“This is a significant impact on us,” she said, adding that at the current rate at which Albany doles out funding, it will take almost four decades to get the monies they should be getting.

Ms. Collins said the reason Salmon River is hit so hard is because by state calculations based on the percentage of students that get for free or reduced lunches the district is the poorest in the state. She reported at a January board meeting that about 75 percent of the 2011-2012 student body fit into that category.

“We are the poorest school in New York state,” Collins told the board.

She urged the board members to go online and reMs. spond to an initiative started by the two groups where they can sign in and tell Governor Andrew Cuomo “to eliminate the gap elimination adjustment.” Gap elimination adjustment is the main state aid formula that is taking the money away from not just Salmon River, but between 300 and 400 other districts in New York state.

She said attaining equitable amounts of aid money is “the single most important thing we’re working on this year.”

In other news, Ms. Collins reported the district’s graduation rate is on the rise. She said of the 2010-2011 class, which Albany is now examining as the yardstick for academic proficiency, graduated 85.2 percent of its senior class. Of those, about 25 percent received advanced distinction.

“The state is delinquent always by several years in data as it reports grad rate[s] ... ,” she told the board.

Albany named Salmon River a school in need of improvement last year based on graduation rates from 2009-2010.em.

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