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Hundreds Rally for Fair School Funding

"Stop the Cap, Close the Gap" rally focuses on the future of education funding.

Some called for an end to the tax cap, and some called for an end to unfunded state mandates. But all called on state lawmakers to consider fair public education funding in a way that doesn't decimate schools' programs or cause districts to rely too heavily on taxpayer support.

Hundreds of people – including educators and residents, parents and students – showed up to support fair school funding in a "Stop the Cap, Close the Gap" rally at Ward Melville High School on Thursday afternoon. The event, part of a campaign by the Long Island Progressive Coalition and Educate NY Now, was one of more than a dozen rallies held across Long Island Thursday.

Deanna Bavlnka, a Board of Education trustee, urged people to reach out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to try and get relief from state requirements that schools must both implement and fund on their own.

"New York’s unfunded mandate crisis is a nonpartisan challenge that threatens all local governments, all school districts and all taxpayers," Bavlnka said. "... They are crippling LI school budgets and taxpayers are tired of carrying the unfair burden of higher taxes. If we make enough noise maybe then the state legislators will eliminate the older mandates that aren’t applicable or as necessary."

She called on those in attendance to reach out in support of a bill by Assemb. Brian Kolb, R,C,I-Canandaigua – the "Mandate Relief for School Districts Act" – which is under review by the state's education committee. She also asked people to sign a "mandate relief petition" at http://best4ny.org/.

But Claudia Reinhart, president of the Three Village Teachers Association, called for more than just mandate relief. Not only does she take issue with the tax cap, she said, but she also objects to the idea that a 60-percent supermajority of voter approval is needed to override it.

"We want the tax cap gone, and we want our majority, our right to vote as a democracy, back," she said. "... Just putting a cap on what we can now spend, while they're still making the rules in the form of mandates that are unfunded without our being able to vote on that, is just irresponsible. And it's going to kill us."

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said with the combination of the tax cap and unfunded mandates, giving every student a quality education will become more and more difficult.

"We stand here today united and committed to standing for fairness and equity in educational funding and fairness and equity in our tax structure," she said. "We have not seen that for a very long time. ... We must continue to work together to address the limitations of the tax cap and the diminishing state aid and the impact these factors have on our educational system."

The message resonated with many who attended the rally.

"We chose to live in this community partly because of this school district," said Loree Alu, whose family has lived here for 10 years. "I think Three Village has certain things we offer our students that may be lost. ... Unfortunately, the state is controlling the way our money is spent and the mandates are out of control."

H. Robinson October 26, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Sign the BEST4NY Mandate Relief No petition addressed to Gov Cuomo and the NYS Legislature http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/mandate-relief-now.html
H. Robinson October 26, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Sign the BEST4NY Mandate Relief Now petition addressed to Gov Cuomo and the NYS Legislature http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/mandate-relief-now.html
Thirty Year Resident. October 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Looks like the teachers and the administration, children in tow turned out to support increased wages for themselves. No tax cap sure no problem, how about a wage freeze, no tenure and dissolution of your union in exchange? Yeah I didn't think so. The cap is in place to protect taxpayers from abusive school budgets whereas the school districts are trying to sell the cap as an attack upon the children. Shame on you "educators".
Had Enuf! October 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
cause districts to rely too heavily on taxpayer support. Only educators can make a statement like that.where do you think the funding will come from the tooth fairy? Whether it is local school taxes or it comes from Albany after they skim off the top to support a bloated bureaucracy, it still comes from taxpayer pockets How about cuts in wages and benefits as a really good start. It is time the teachers' union started living in reality
Bill October 26, 2012 at 03:57 PM
It is amazing how quick they come out to support themselves. Not once to you hear what they are willing to give up, the reason, because they are not willing to give up anything. They would bleed us dry while they get rich. How about they stop stuffing their wallets by taking phony education courses at our expense to increase their salary, how about a real wage freeze (not a freeze where they get the money in the future), how about a work at will like the rest of us have to do in New York State, how about stop fighting every cost saving measure that even dents their benefit, how about paying something for your health care, how about eliminating your guaranteed step increases (no matter how you perform), how about actually taking a real wage freeze of say a year one where you get NO raises for one year, how about changing your pensions into 401K where you have to contribute AND when the funds value decreases we the taxpayer don't have to contribute to make up the loss, how about you work a FULL year with 3 - 4 weeks vacation (like the rest of us) OR at least get paid for the time you actually work per year, I could go on and on and on In other words why don't you have to work and get paid and get benefits just like the people who are paying you. Why can't you understand? You are supposed to be educated people right? How can you expect us to continue to pay you when we can't afford to live? Please explain that to us. You want more we don't think so.
Proud tv teacher October 27, 2012 at 03:14 AM
How about you get your facts straight? We pay 15% towards healthcare. In 2014 it goes to 17%. Some districts pay 0. Do you have any idea what we do each day? Every job is different so it's too bad you chose the wrong profession. If you think we have it so great, go back to school and get a teaching degree. You don't hear us complaining when people in private sector jobs get gigantic bonuses?? So each profession has it's pros and cons it's just that we are targets because it's funded by taxpayers. Guess what, many of us live in district...so we pay our own salary and when taxes go up, we pay too...but it's worth it because my kids go to the best schools, worth every penny. Move if you don't like it but there's no relief anywhere bc Albany doesn't care about Long Island schools.
Proud tv teacher October 27, 2012 at 03:18 AM
And by the way if you think "getting rich"'making 85k a year is too much, you're out of your mind. I drive a 14 year old car and work a second job so I call that "getting by."
Its Over October 27, 2012 at 08:25 AM
These criminals will bankrupt all of us soon. Their pension fund is a time bomb. Are taxes are going up 3.67 not 2.99. http://www.northshoreoflongisland.com/Articles-i-2012-10-25-94177.112114-Three-Village-tax-levy-will-actually-increase-36-percent.html
Had Enuf! October 27, 2012 at 09:55 AM
I just love it when teachers tell the people that pay their salaries to move if they don't like it. Is that really the kind of critical thinking we get for our tax dollars. It is time 3V teachers face reality......the current contract is unsustainable and you need to act like the professionals you claim you are
Had Enuf! October 27, 2012 at 09:58 AM
Please don' confuse them with the facts, they have been in denial for years. Once the pension bomb hits, all of us will have to move as "proud 3V teacher" wants, then the only people living in 3V will be teachers and other government workers .
Johnny cakes October 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM
If you're going to call teachers criminals then I feel compelled to correct your grammar. It's "our" taxes not "are" taxes. Don't blame autocorrect either.
Smokestack Lightning October 27, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Maybe you should read the article that you posted that explains the reason for the additional rate increase. It is a combination of a taxpayer approved (65.9%) proposal to convert to gas heat, in addition to an increase to cover lost revenue from successful tax grievances. So if you successfully grieved your taxes this year, you can look in the mirror for someone else at least partly to blame. If you didn't, you can blame your neighbors that did. ALL components of your tax bill had to increase to cover the difference, however minimal. The (unconstitutional) super majority approved the rest. Way to throw out more innuendo aimed at the teachers.
Its Over October 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Thanks for the spelling correction. Nice handle sounds like a mobster name. Good name for a criminal
Nicco1973 October 28, 2012 at 03:34 AM
The same blow hards whining about teachers and their salaries. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. The economy stinks and you want our heads for that. Go bother someone else. Isn't their some neighbor you can annoy.
H. Robinson October 28, 2012 at 04:33 AM
You're right that "Albany doesn't care" Unfunded mandates are spending by the NYS Legislature. But instead of putting those spending lines in the state budget which would mean finding state money to pay for it, the Legislature inserts the mandate spending in county school and town budgets - result is that Legislature doesn't have to pay out of state money - instead the bill is sent to local property taxpayers. The sham aspect of the tax cap is the Legislature forces counties schools towns to limit their spending, but the Legislature doesn't limit its mandate spending. The binge-spending continues. One big result is that layoffs are increasing all across the state, because Albany doesn't care and just wants a bigger and bigger share of every property tax dollar to pay for its spending instead of local spending. To tell Gov Cuomo and the Legislature that you oppose Albany's don't care attitude, have a look at BEST4NY's online mandate petition linked in the comments above and consider signing - anonymous signatures are possible. Laid off teachers and property taxpayers are suffering, because the Legislature, Albany, state government, just keeps spending and local communities keep getting the bill. And ask your school board members and town board members about your reserve funds. Albany's overspending policies effectively transform local reserve funds into state piggybanks.
Its Over October 28, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Same old teachers trolling the blogs protecting the cash machine. Too bad tax payers are wishing up to your organized crime machine. My neighbors don't pick my pockets. Don't u have some students to put to sleep?
Thirty Year Resident. October 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM
It's pretty clear Nicco you are not an English teacher...learn the correct usage of their and there. Your argument of "Go bother someone else" is infantile and myopic. The leave me alone mentality has to end, stop bleeding your neighbors dry!
Thirty Year Resident. October 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Proving once again that the rallying cry of "it's for the kids" come budget time is a tremendous lie. The arrogance of your post is galling...what school do you teach in?

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