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Gary Finch

Assemblyman Gary Finch shakes hands with Auburn Enlarged City School District Board member-elect Danielle Wood on Monday when the district's advocacy committee delivered hundreds of petitions requesting an equitable fix to the state's Foundation Aid formula for school districts.

In the latest effort to get somebody — anybody — in Albany to assume the mantle, a group representing the Auburn school district met with state Assemblyman Gary Finch this week to ask for help getting more state aid.

With Auburn continually coming out on the losing end of the formula used to determine how much money school districts get from the state each year, advocates have been calling for years for the formula to be changed.

A natural question might be to wonder why the group took this issue to Finch, a Republican, in the first place. With Democrats in control of the Assembly, Senate and governor's office, Republicans are not necessarily the ones who can get a tough job done right now. Finch backed up that theory somewhat by telling the group that, while he was certainly in their corner, they might have a better chance of success by contacting other members of the Assembly and Senate and taking their case directly to the governor's office.

It was nice of Finch to take the time to meet with the Auburn group and listen to their concerns, but essentially saying "It's out of my hands" is not an acceptable answer. We believe that Finch — and the rest of the Albany delegation representing this area — can and should be taking a proactive approach.

Changing the school aid formula is going to be tricky, because school districts currently benefiting from the system also have representatives in Albany — and they won't be advocating for changes that might be costly to their constituents.

We would like to see Finch and the rest of the Republicans representing this area reach out to some of their Democratic colleagues on the issue, perhaps teaming up with lawmakers who represent school districts in a similar school aid situation as Auburn's.

Education should not be a partisan issue, and a coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers with education aid as a shared agenda item can make more noise and get more attention than any representative alone. Reach across the aisle. Find some partners and make an aggressive and vocal effort to get needed changes secured. Make fixing the school aid formula an issue that more people in Albany are talking about — and taking action on.

The Citizen editorial board includes interim publisher Thomas Salvo, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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