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Hurting district shows Albany lack of state funding effects firsthand

By ANNA MEILER

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Sen. James Seward says hello to a librarian that's been knocked down to part time and walks through empty classrooms meant for programs and teachers that no longer exist.

"There's no better way for the senator and other assemblymen and women to see what their policies in Albany do than coming to tour our school," said Daniel Adamek, the president of the student council who invited Sen. Seward to Herkimer High School.

The Herkimer School District has lost over $4 million in state aid since 2008 because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, forcing them to cut about 10 percent of their staff. Adamek says he's heading to college already behind.

"It's very unsettling to know that I have worked very diligently as a student and still will not be up to par of other students around the state and the country because of an injustice that's being committed by our New York State government," said Adamek.

With 15-year-old computers in the technology classroom, students also wonder how they're supposed to one day get the high paying, high-tech jobs at Nano Utica.

"We need to have good, strong local schools that will be able to adequately prepare our local students for those jobs and that's how we're truly going to grow our local economy," said Sen. Seward - (R) 51st district.

The school district did just approve a $10 million capital improvement project that's 90 percent funded by the state, but Superintendent Robert Miller says that won't improve quality of education.

"I may have the infrastructure, but if the general funding isn't there those classrooms wont be filled with teachers and students," he said.

Sen. Seward says this tour is causing him to redouble his efforts in Albany.

"Under our legislation next year will be the very last year of any kind of Gap Elimination Adjustment. We'll bring it to end and then we want to get to the plus side of actually enhancing state aid," said Seward.

He hopes to pass the legislation before the legislature breaks for the summer on June 19.

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