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Release The State Aid Runs

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be receiving much fan mail from local school board members and superintendents in the coming weeks. It’s school budget season, and the governor has local officials planning in the dark.

Cuomo, in an unprecedented move, has withheld the state aid runs, which are typically released soon after the governor’s budget address in January. The state aid runs, according to local superintendents and school board members, are crucial to the budget-planning process as they provide the projected amount of aid districts will receive from the state.

Cuomo claims he’ll commit to a $1.1 billion aid increase if lawmakers support his sweeping education reforms. In the meantime, as an apparent bargaining chip, the governor will keep the aid numbers close to his vest.

Cuomo’s proposed reforms include changes to the teacher-evaluation system which would place more weight on standardized tests. Additionally, the governor wants teachers to receive five years of positive reviews before achieving tenure. Without the reforms, the state aid increase will not top $400 million, according to the Associated Press.

Maureen Donahue, Southwestern Central Schools superintendent, said she learned of Cuomo’s decision to withhold aid numbers through Twitter.

“It’s an incredibly important document to start the process of the budget,” she told The Post-Journal. “To say that we are disappointed in the governor is an understatement.”

Tim Mains, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, asked district residents to contact their legislators to put pressure on the governor. The superintendent said he spent a full day last week calling lawmakers in hopes of getting the numbers.

Accusing Cuomo of playing hardball, Bert Lictus, shared superintendent for the Clymer and Panama school districts, described the educational policy coming out of Albany as “chaotic.”

“To say that we don’t need to have those projections now is untrue,” Lictus told The Post-Journal, noting districts do not have the option to submit late budgets. “I can’t believe he can be so insensitive to something so important.”

It’s time for the governor to set aside his personal agenda and shine some light on school budget season. He isn’t doing local districts any favors.

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