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S-GI board calls for end to gap elimination adjustment

SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education held a regular board meeting on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the high school library and media center. During that meeting, the board voted unanimously to support the immediate elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment in the district, including a letter to Legislators expressing the same.

The GEA was implemented in New York state 2010, as a one-time reduction in education aid to help New York state balance its budget, but it has continued in every budget since then. The GEA has resulted in state aid to S-GI’s being reduced by $14,084,864 which, in turn, has resulted in a cost shift to the local property taxpayers.

The board maintains that this cost shift has “resulted in unsustainable measures to balance the S-GI district budgets, including the reduction and elimination of programs, personnel, services and fund reserves.”

To make the situation even more difficult for S-GI and its residents, the district’s efforts to sustain programs and services are constrained by the Property Tax Levy Cap Legislation, unfunded mandates, increases in pensions, health care costs and mandatory Common Core Learning Standards and performance reviews.

The district has asked the state Legislature to immediately exempt state aid for education from the calculation of the GEA, since “adequate state funding is constitutionally mandated and essential to meet all mandates and obligations and to maintain the quality of education in the S-GI district.”

Additionally, through the GEA, school districts are actually receiving less aid than they were in 2008-2009, even though New York state touts recent aid increases as “generous support” to schools.

The board also accepted a grant from the S-GI Community Education Foundation, in the amount of $3,500, for use toward the S-GI Family Support Center.

In other board matters:

– To make up for lost instructional days, due to recent weather-related closures, all schools will be in session on Feb. 20 and 21 and elementary schools will have a half-day on June 26. In case of additional snow days, April 14 was set, in case one additional day is needed; April 15 was set, in case two additional days are needed and May 23 was set, in case three are needed. Superintendent Paul Connelly may set additional instructional days, at his discretion, as needed.

– The following fundraising activities were approved: Varsity Club-sponsored sale of Buffalo Bandit tickets; class of 2016-sponsored Winter Ball dance; Colden Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association-sponsored Chrysler Drive for Kids; a Kids Can Make a Difference-sponsored project at Springville Elementary School.

– A resolution was adopted to allow a property tax exemption for persons with disabilities and limited incomes, after a public hearing to determine that it was both desirable and appropriate for the board to adopt the exemption available under New York Real Property Tax Law section 459-C.

That exemption will be effective beginning with the June 30, 2014 fiscal year.

The next board of education meeting will take place at the high school library and media center at 7 p.m, on Feb. 25.

The S-GI high school is located at 290 North Buffalo St. in Springville.

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