The Auburn school board has held two meetings to date regarding the 2012-2013 budget. The last meeting held on Thursday, Jan.19 was well attended. We invited all our union leaders, PTO representatives, school booster groups, SROs, community members, etc. I would like to thank them all for attending and contributing to the dialogue. We also invited our state representatives. Unfortunately, the only one to send a representative was Assemblyman Gary Finch. Sen. Mike Nozzolio is having his own meeting on Friday, Feb. 3, mid-morning, while most people are working. But I am going to attend, because I was invited, and frankly, we are not getting through to our local elected senators (the majority that control the Senate), that high-performing, low-cost, low-wealth, high-need districts (the majority of local upstate districts) are not getting a fair share of the state education money. We all understand that the state is in financial trouble. Our school board, along with all others in our area, are the hatchet people executing the cuts brought on by the lack of state funding. We are dismantling the public education system, and based on the future state funding forecast for education, there is not going to be much left for our children.
As you can tell, this funding deficit is really bothering me. The more facts I gather, the worse it gets. I want it to bother you also. We need to ask our legislators to represent us. I am extremely frustrated and angry that our children are being put at a disadvantage by our state. I kept asking myself why is Auburn in such dire straights? So, I went to the Statewide School Finance Consortium website; took the data for all New York state school districts, and crunched the data. The Auburn district average cost per student for the 2011-2012 year is $15,137.81. We are the 27th lowest cost district out of more than 700 districts in New York state. Yes, Auburn is the 27th lowest cost district in New York state, and we are being penalized by New York state for being efficient and high performing. We do not have room to cut more costs without impacting our students’ future. The state should be asking us how we became efficient and high performing, instead of putting us out of business. I urge you to contact our representatives. Our children deserve equity in the state funding formula.
Lesch is a member of the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education