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Schenectady Superintendent wants NY to fairly fund minority districts

SCHENECTADY -- Superintendent of Schenectady Schools argued New York is disproportionately funding minority school districts during a meeting with other districts Wednesday morning. For the 2012-2013 school year it received 54 percent of the state aid it was promised, the lowest in the area.

“Last year we closed a middle school. This year we're closing an early childhood center. It means we don’t have enough social and emotional resources. We’ve got kids that come to school with significant mental health needs related to living in poverty,” said Superintendent Larry Spring.

Spring does not believe the state intended to target districts with a high concentration of minority students, but blamed politics for steering funding away. Schenectady serves the nation’s 13th highest concentration of children living in poverty, but because of the cuts is forced to increase taxes to make up the difference.

“It creates this vicious cycle. if we were funded at the median level we would be able to lower tax rates by a third in the city and I believe that would dramatically change the dynamic in the city,” said Spring.

Spring joined superintendents from Albany and two other districts to discuss filing a Civil Rights Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. The complaint would focus on the racial disparity instead of a the concentration of poverty because it would force New York to change its funding allocation under the Civil Rights Act.

“That changed the dynamic because being poor is not a protected class of citizen,” explained Spring.
“However, if you're driving aid away from a protected class of citizen that's a federal issue.”

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