Rachel Wallace, the PTSA vice-president for Lawrence Avenue, led the meeting. She, and other PTSA officers, encouraged those in attendance to go to SUNY Canton on Saturday, March 10th, at 7:45 AM. Each year a legislative breakfast is held in Canton where Board of Education members and Superintendents can pose questions to legislators. The PTSA is hoping for a large turnout to send the message to legislators that we are extremely concerned about the NYS aid cuts to education.
Schools like Potsdam and Canton, which are heavily dependent on State aid, are forced to make up budget deficits by laying off teachers and other employees and by cutting programs. Some have questioned if Governor Cuomo is trying to force mergers in rural areas by making it impossible for such districts to stay solvent.
The PTSA is also trying to gather their own Listserv so they can communicate directly with concerned members of the Potsdam School community. If you would like to be on their list, just send your name and e-mail address to Rachel Wallace (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The group discussed the need to send letters to legislators in order to lobby for a change in the formula used to determine aid to schools (old data is currently used in the formula and an update would help the PCSD). Also, it was advised that community members should consider including in their letters to legislators their concerns about the Combined Wealth Ratio (CWR).
The CWR is a measure of relative wealth, indexing each district against the statewide average on a combination of two factors, property wealth per pupil and income wealth per pupil. (In other words, the assessed value of properties within a school district and the family incomes within the district.) The CWR has a floor and a ceiling. In the St. Lawrence-Lewis Boces region, 16 out of 18 school districts have a CWR below the floor of 0.65. Potsdam Central's is 0.502. Thus, our school district is treated as wealthier than it is and rich school districts who are above the ceiling, are treated as poorer than they actually are. At risk of stating the obvious, when our school is treated as wealthier than it is, we receive less education aid.
Please consider writing to our legislators to lobby for fair and responsible financing for high needs and average needs schools.