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Cuomo's State of the State 'Disappointing' For Local Educators

By Kerry Longobucco.
One day after Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2016 State of the State and budget proposal, local educators are skeptical of what's in store.

Superintendents of two local districts say they're disappointed in Cuomo's speech.

Cuomo (D) did vow to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment (or GEA), a program the the state uses to take back some of the aid it awards to schools. But Cuomo wants to eliminate the gea over two years -- and local superintendents say that's not soon enough.

Union-Endicott Central School District Superintendent Dr. Suzanne McLeod says U-E has lost more than $24 million to the GEA since 2010, while poverty rates within the district have climbed.

McLeod says if the governor's proposal isn't adjusted, the district will have to cut more than $1 million from this year's budget just to maintain what it has.

"What that means, is layoffs, and I hate to say that," McLeod said. "We've done it before -- we've laid off 104 employees in this district over the past 5-6 years. I was hoping I would never have to do that again."

Cuomo has proposed spending $2.1 billion on education over the next two years -- the most in state history. But Maine-Endwell Central School District Superintendent Jason Van Fossen says that's not enough.

"Until that gap elimination goes away, to me, any addition we get is zero until they put back what we originally had expected back," Van Fossen said.

Both superintendents also say they also expected the governor to have more to say about the future of Common Core -- which remains largely uncertain.

"We, uh, would love the clarity," McLeod said. "Because it is a little bit uncertain from Albany, in terms of things like common core, in terms of things like the APPR, the Annual Professional Performance Review, of the requirements for principals and for teachers."

Van Fossen wants to know whether Common Core will simply be rebranded -- or whether new standards will be developed from scratch.

"What do we need to learn, what are new, what's changing?" Van Fossen questioned. "How's that going to impact instruction, how's that going to impact assessment? And are we starting from zero again?"