The State Needs Fewer Schools And Better Resource Distribution

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s insistence that all of the state’s school funding mess can be cleared up by simply making school districts equalize spending amongst their school buildings is hogwash.

Bret Apthorpe, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, shot holes in that “plan” last week when he illustrated, in about two minutes, why Lincoln Elementary and Washington Middle schools have a higher cost associated with them than other schools in the Jamestown district. Those two schools have concentrations of students who need additional services that cost more than the rest of the district’s students.

Why, then, should the governor think he has any rational reason to withhold aid from Jamestown because of this perceived inequity. Why should Jamestown Public Schools officials have to waste one additional minute of their day justifying those expenditures to the governor or anyone else at the state level? One would think reading the minutes of Tuesday’s school board meeting would suffice, but it’s New York state, and we know things are never that easy.

It is with some relief, then, that we read over the weekend that both houses of the state Legislature rejected Cuomo’s half-baked plan. Locally elected school board members know better how to build their budgets than does a governor who knew so much about his own economic development projects that fraud and corruption flourished under his nose. If state officials are serious about ironing out inequities in school funding, they would embark on a serious effort to right-size education in New York state.

School funding in New York state has for too long focused on throwing money at schools. That is the wrong approach. The state needs fewer schools and fewer administrators that allow for a better redistribution of existing resources. The issue isn’t about more money, or how much more money to spend, it’s about spending our money wisely.