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NY Cuts = $6,000+ Per Classroom: Upstate Hit Hardest

November 18, 2008

Albany, NY — The nationwide financial crisis has pushed New York state to the brink. A special state legislative session opens today to deal with $2 billion in budget cuts proposed by Governor Paterson.

A new report says the average classroom in New York would lose more than $6,000 this school year under Paterson's proposal, and that those cuts would hurt Yonkers and upstate, urban districts harder than others.

The Alliance for Quality Education's Executive Director, Billy Easton, says the Fiscal Policy Institute report details what the cuts would mean for schools.

"On average, every classroom in the state would lose $6,400; and in many cases, it could be as high as twice that amount. Some schools will lose $12,000 per classroom."

Easton says the region expected to endure the largest budget cutbacks has already been hit hard by the economic downturn.

"The largest cuts are occurring in the large upstate cities -- Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Yonkers -- cuts that average almost $9,000 a classroom. The inequities in our education increase if these cuts are implemented, because the smallest cuts are occurring in the wealthiest school districts."

In order to survive budget cuts that large, Easton warns, districts will have to consider both layoffs and paring down or eliminating key programs. Paterson has ruled out raising state revenue to offset the cuts, because he says new taxes would only exacerbate the problem.

A breakdown by school district of the proposed budget cuts can be found online, at www.aqeny.org.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY