From the desk of Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, District 119
A commentary was written by a Phoenix columnist who criticized me for not having delivered higher levels of state funding to the Utica City School District.
The record, impact of my votes and the reaction of the Utica School Superintendent prove otherwise.
The Record: $6.2 Million More Than Governor Cuomo’s Budget.
In early April, I voted for a state budget that rejected Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inadequate funding for Utica’s public schools. As a Member of the Assembly, I supported increasing aid to education that resulted in the Utica City School District receiving $6.2 million more than the Governor’s original budget proposed.
The Impact: More Teachers and Smaller Classes.
With this increase in state aid, the Utica City School District was able to:
- pass a $180 million budget without raising property taxes;
- hire three English as a New Language (ENL) teachers;
- hire additional classroom teachers;
- cut the average class size in elementary schools to 19-20 students;
- cut the average class size at the secondary level to between 20-25 students;
- purchase new textbooks and instructional materials;
- hire a mental health support team;
- underwrite the district’s Academic Intervention Services (AIS) by placing one English Facilitator and one Math Facilitator in every elementary and middle school;
- recruit two coaches for the freshman basketball team;
The Reaction: “Very Grateful” and “Very Thrilled”.
When asked about the increase in state aid to education, Utica School Superintendent Bruce Karam answered:
“We are very, very grateful. We’re putting it to good use with academic programs and teaching staff.”
When asked about the crucial programs the additional state aid made possible, Superintendent Karam told the Observer-Dispatch:
“I am absolutely thrilled to do this because I know it’s going to help kids with instruction and learning and academic achievement. I’m very, very thrilled at all of this.”
In June, April’s budget allocations were supplemented by a program known as “Bullet Aid”, a smaller amount of discretionary funding that helped to further address the needs of the 119th AD.
On my recommendation, $50,000 in Bullet Aid went to Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES to provide mental health and drug abuse training to ALL area public schools— including the Utica City School District. Another $10,000 was secured for the Mid-York Library System to help pay higher operating costs related to the 2020 Census. Bullet Aid was also used to help alleviate the Rome City School District’s intractable budget crisis, support school safety and security in Whitesboro and Frankfort and fund after-school programs in Oriskany.
The 119th Assembly District is not a collection of isolated towns and cities. It is a community unto itself where what happens in one place affects all others. I work for – and represent – everyone.