Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Auburn BOE 1-9

From left, Mary Nila, Madelyn Bona, Sarah Fritz and Natalee Bello, members of the National Junior Honor Society at Auburn Junior High School, speak to Auburn Board of Education member Eli Hernandez after the students led the Pledge of Allegiance at a board meeting Tuesday night.

AUBURN — The Auburn Enlarged City School District is waiting for further word on a court case small-city school districts have against the state.

Auburn superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo talked about the case at a board of education meeting at Auburn High School Tuesday night.

Pirozzolo discussed Maisto vs. New York, in which parents and students representing eight small-city school districts — including the Utica City School District — argue the state is not giving the districts sufficient aid to provide students a sound basic education, as stated in the state constitution. The districts argue they have been underfunded for years. The case dates back to 2009, when it was known as Hussein vs. New York.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor presided over a trial on the case in 2015 and ruled against against the districts the next year. The districts appealed, and an appellate court reversed the decision in October 2017. 

Pirozzolo said he will be heading to Albany on Thursday with other members of the New York State Association of Small City School Districts to lobby the state Senate Finance Committee to pass some bills. He said he hopes to hear more about the case and if Auburn would receive more funding if there were was no further litigation.

He believes one of the bills small-city districts will lobby for involves the income wealth index floor, a component of the state's foundation aid formula for districts that calculates a district's income wealth relative to the statewide average. The district has said in the past that it would receive another $2.2 million if the floor were eliminated. 

Pirozzolo said some of the districts in the association that aren't in the lawsuit have been asked to contribute money toward possible further litigation, but he isn't sure if the state will try to appeal the latest decision. Board president Mike McCole said he is skeptical about the court being able to compel the state to produce additional money even if the districts win, let alone having Auburn contribute to more litigation.

Pirozzolo said the district will continue to "fight" for equity.

"We've got to continue to push the word, we've got to meet with the right people," Pirozzolo said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.


Education Reporter