District Hosts Legislative & Community Advocacy Meeting

Babylon School District held its first legislative and community advocacy meeting on Feb. 26. The goal of the program was to bring elected officials and community members together to work for the betterment of public education funding.

Babylon School District administrators, Board of Education members and students, as well as local community groups and elected officials, including New York State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, New York State Sen. Phil Boyle, Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey and Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino, assembled to discuss state aid, restoring the Gap Elimination Adjustment and finding ways to provide funding for state-mandated programs.

“Our goal is not just to maintain programs but to enhance educational opportunities for all of our students,” said Babylon Superintendent of Schools Linda Rozzi. “Working together, we can advocate for the full restoration of GEA funds.”

The legislators and administrators discussed the upcoming state budget process and the difficulties for school districts caused by a lack of state aid. The negative effects of New York State’s unpopular Gap Elimination Adjustment remained a particularly urgent topic of discussion, with the district providing sample letters and pamphlets in support of ending the annual practice. Babylon has lost approximately $5 million since the GEA was implemented in the 2011-12 school year.

“Long Island school districts are fighting for their fair share of state aid,” said Saladino. “The budget must be balanced and recognize the needs of our communities on Long Island that pay a disproportionate share in state income taxes.”

Assemblyman Saladino also addressed the issue of unfunded state mandates and Common Core. He has proposed a reform plan to halt Common Core, establish a Blue Ribbon committee and bring back control to the local school districts.