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Outcry from school officials following Gov. Cuomo's budget proposal

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- School officials, teachers and students are calling Gov. Cuomo's $600 million in education funding a major disappointment.

The Alliance for Quality of Education and Citizen Action of New York held eight rallies across New York State Wednesday, including one in Utica, calling on Albany to increase state funding for education.

"The Utica City School District is one of the poorest and most state aid dependent school districts, yet it has a long history of being under-funded due to a state funding formula that does not provide the financial resources for high needs districts such as ours," said Bruce Karam, superintendent for the Utica City School District.

The Board of Regents recommended $1.3 billion in funding to end the streak of layoffs plaguing New York schools for the past several years. At Proctor high school class sizes are ballooning and nearly 3,000 students share just 24 computers.

"You tell me what other school district in Upstate New York has that limited amount of technology," said Rick Allen, a teacher at Proctor high school.

"It's not a question of should we get that funding, we need that funding in Utica," said Delvin Moody, a student at Proctor.

The Gap Elimination Adjustment has taken millions of of dollars in state aid from schools since 2009. But money isn't the only problem.

"We keep passing more mandates, we keep adding requirements. We haven't taken any of the old ones out that have been any consequence and so this can only go in one direction and that is less and less opportunity for kids and that's what's happening," said Mark Vivacqua, district superintendent, Herkimer BOCES.

Educators hope funding will be increased to $1.9 billion before lawmakers reach a budget deal. Gov. Cuomo hopes to extend his streak of reaching a budget deal by the start of the fiscal year on April 1.

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