ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State United Teachers brought its Fund Our Future campaign to the New York Capitol to speak out against state cuts to education aid.
NYSUT Pres. Andy Pallotta was joined by union leaders, school district leaders, and lawmakers to discuss the impact of the 20% cut that is already having on districts across the state. That includes significant layoffs in the Albany and Schenectady school districts as well as Norwich, Syracuse and Rochester.
The leaders spoke in front of 500 chairs, each representing 20 teachers and school staff members who are likely to be laid off due to school budget cuts across the state.
“We are looking at possibly 10,000 cuts by the end of the month,” Pallotta said. “The state can utilize its rainy day funds, its settlement funds. And we have been pushing the legislature to enact taxes on the ultra wealthy in this state, which there are many ultra wealthy people in the state. If they paid a little bit more, we can afford not to cut these teachers and these para professionals who will be working with children.”
Schenectady has been one of the hardest hit school districts.
“When you combine the total paraprofessional units and the teacher units, we are are about 425 positions down,” Juliet Benaquisto, of Schenectady Federation of Teachers, said. “280 of those are our paraprofessional members, and we lost about 146 teacher positions when you count all of the people who have been laid off and people who have been hired in the summer and then had their positions rescinded.”
According to Benaquisto, in Schenectady, every department in the district has been negatively impacted.
“We are opening a shell of a school district,” she said. “We are not the same school district, and we will struggle to support our students in the way we need to.”
NYSUT’s President said elected officials need to act quickly to help struggling schools.
“We pay taxes; we pay them to the federal government, and the state government. We believe they should take care of their own people,” Pallotta said. “We are people in need right now in this state. The children need to have their educators in the classrooms.”
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