Despite fantasies of private or homeschooling my child, I, like so many others, will be sending him into what I already know to be the flawed New York public school system in the fall.
Trying to continue business as usual but with less money than usual is already impossible, but then add on the ever-increasing New York state and federal educational mandates and cut funding a little bit more with the Gap Elimination Adjustment and nothing but strain and a deficient educational system are created. These maps from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York do a good job illustrating where the individual school districts get money from and how it is spent.
The Gap Elimination Adjustment, a budget-balancing device created years ago, takes money away from all the school districts, both rich and poor. This Gap Elimination Adjustment video quickly outlines how New York school budgets were cut. The tricky bit comes in when the government was obligated to pay back the money they cut out. They started to pay it back to the New York school districts at a lower rate than they promised, but advertised it as an increase in school funding.
“At least the schools are getting some more money,” you might think. The reality is that no, they’re not, because they had gotten temporary grants to replace the Gap Elimination Adjustment dollars that had been taken away and now that grant money has run out.
So what does all this school district funding run-around and the Gap Elimination Adjustment mean to you? Higher taxes cannot make up the missing money in many of the New York state school districts because tax caps have been reached already. Some New York school districts still may try to raise taxes beyond the cap though, to make up the funding shortfalls. Many others are eliminating staff positions, class selections and student services.
Poor, small school districts like Argyle Central School district lost $4.5 million in the last five years through the Gap Elimination Adjustment budget. New York schools are already spending more per student than most other schools in the country, but test scores indicate students are still performing at about the national average on many New York state assessment tests.
So what’s going on here? It can only be concluded that education dollars are being spent in the wrong places, something that many parents already know. Unfairness for all, seems to be the New York school model and the Gap Elimination Adjustment is the latest demonstration of that philosophy.