County backs schools on ending Gap Elimination Adjustment

MALONE – The Franklin County Board of Legislators has joined a growing list of officials demanding an end to the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment.

The legislators unanimously passed a resolution during their Thursday meeting to urge the New York state Legislature to immediately end the controversial GEA and to refund the money projected to be cut under the GEA to the school districts.

The resolution notes that adequate state funding to public schools is constitutionally mandated and is essential to providing and maintaining quality education. It also states that a combination of the property tax cap, unfunded and underfunded mandates, increases in pension and health care costs, mandated implementation of Common Core standards and teacher and principal performance reviews are making it difficult to provide quality education.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.

“We just passed something like this in Saranac Lake, but it affects all of our school districts,” said Legislator Barbara Rice, D-Saranac Lake.

The Saranac Lake school board was the third in the Tri-Lakes to pass a resolution to this effect. The Lake Placid school board passed a similar resolution Tuesday, and the Tupper Lake school board passed one last month.

The resolutions are a response to problems faced by school districts across the state, which have been struggling to balance rising costs with reduced state aid since the GEA was enacted in 2010 by Gov. David Paterson’s administration. Legislators said the GEA was implemented to close the gap between the state’s anticipated revenue and its expenses by reducing aid to school districts statewide.

“It has placed, just like everything else, fiscal stress, not just on our school districts, but because there is a transfer of this expense to the taxpayers, it’s also stressful to the taxpayers as well,” Rice said. “Obviously, educating our children should be the most important thing we do in our communities, and we shouldn’t be shortchanging them. I thought it was important to show that we support their efforts so that we have adequate funding for public education.”

Legislator Gordon Crossman, a Malone Democrat and former teacher, said he recently learned how much the GEA has affected the Malone Central School District since its inception.

“I’ve seen that Malone Central lost millions,” Crossman said. “I think it’s very important that this be reimbursed. It’s money that the school systems have coming to them. The state helped balance the budget on the school systems, and it’s about time that ended.”

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or