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They all sound like solid ideas:

* more instructional hours for students in the form of longer hours and more days of school;

* expanding pre-kindergarten to have it available all day in the poorest areas of the state;

* establishing schools as child health-care and social services hubs.

These were among the major recommendations offered by the New York Education Reform Commission in its report released last week. Each of these ideas has merit and each certainly deserves a thorough examination by state lawmakers and education regulators.

But each of these ideas also will come with increased costs, and the reform commission's work so far has not adequately dealt with that crucial aspect of New York's public education system.

As we've seen with school districts in Cayuga County and through the work of the Statewide School Financial Consortium, New York currently has a badly flawed system for distributing the state aid that is so crucial to the operations of public schools.

“If we had all the time in the world, these recommendations would be a great start,’’ said Rick Timbs, the consortium's executive director. “Unfortunately, we don’t. These recommendations, though well meaning, don’t move the ball far enough down the field to stop the increased slide of these districts into fiscal and programmatic insolvency.’’

The commission's work is not finished - a final report is due in September - and officials have pledged to devote efforts to fiscal issues in the coming months.

But Timbs' point about not having the luxury of time is important.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State speech on Wednesday, he needs to be clear that reforming the state's education financing formulas must be the foundation upon which other reforms are based.


Executive Editor