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Local officials say preliminary education report leaves out ‘meaty’ issues

—  While many local school officials are pleased that the current state administration is looking at the education system, they feel many key issues were not tackled in a recent report.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office released a preliminary report from the NY Education Reform Commission, a group of nationally recognized education, community and business leaders to make recommendations for future reforms in education.

“I think that the committee is well intended and they have done some pretty good work,” Elizabethtown-Lewis Superintendent Scott Osborne said. “The issue that I have so far is these are the same issues that are already very well known in the education community. Where is the discussion about unfunded mandates and equitable funding across the state’s differing communities?”

“Everything has to be on the table as we look at the future and the financial table down the road,” Willsboro Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said.

“They did not tackle any of the tough issues,” Westport Superintendent John Gallagher said. “The really difficult issues about funding education are not in there. When you are in an area where you do not get an assessed valuation on anything that could carry the weight of a budget, then it all goes onto the backs of the homeowners. The tax cap and state funding reductions put our towns at a tremendous disadvantage.”

Osborne said that he was pleased to see the report praise teachers and administrators for the jobs that they are doing.

“I think that we have been a political football for the past couple of years,” Osborne said. “It is encouraging to see the educators and administrators recognized by the commission for the work they do.”

Gallagher agreed.

“It’s nice that they would compliment teachers and districts for doing the best that they can,” he said.

One of the main components of the report was to “pursue efficiencies such as district consolidation, high school regionalization and shared services to increase student access to educational opportunities.”

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