Assemblymember Steck: Our Schools Have Been Shortchanged for Too Long

Sponsors legislation to make school aid funding fairer

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced he is co-sponsoring legislation that would eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) as well as enact the School Funding Equity Act (A.8720, A.4609). Both pieces of legislation aim to reform the way school aid is calculated and distributed.

“The formula for distributing education aid has led to schools in our community not getting their fair share,” said Assemblymember Steck. “The quality of our children’s education is being compromised due to the way funding is handed out. The formula needs to be changed.”

The GEA was introduced in the 2009-10 budget as a way to help reduce the state’s budget deficit by deducting state aid from each school district. The GEA remains in effect, continuing to reduce state aid to school districts that desperately need it. Our local school districts and property taxpayers have been unfairly burdened by the GEA and have become increasingly responsible for funding our school. The GEA is costing school districts in our community over $14 million this year alone, noted Assemblymember Steck. This legislation would repeal the GEA altogether and provide school districts with the full amount of aid calculated by existing budget formulas.

  • Menands - $70,570
  • Mohannasen - $2,280,911
  • North Colonie - $3,175,724
  • Niskayuna - $2,901,781
  • South Colonie - $3,069,693
  • Schenectady -$2,195,747
  • Watervliet - $514,949

The School Funding Equity Act would reform the state’s school aid formula to bring fairness to school districts that have been shortchanged for years. The legislation would require aid to be calculated based on data collected within the last five years to assist school districts experiencing fluctuation and would amend the calculation to get more accurate data. It would also call for greater attention to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch by having aid determined by how many low-income students attend a school instead of by property tax. Under the new formula, school districts would no longer receive just a minimum amount of school aid, and automatic increases in aid to districts that don’t need it would be eliminated. The regional cost index would also be updated to reflect current data.

“Our students are the future of our community and they deserve to have the best educational resources at their disposal,” said Assemblymember Steck. “Every child deserves a great education; this is in fact guaranteed in our State Constitution; and this legislation would help ensure that by providing a fair method to determine how much aid districts should receive.”