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West Islip District Committee Launches Campaign to Repeal GEA

Letter writing goal is to boost district state aid in the coming years.

The West Islip School District Legislative Action Committee is asking taxpayers to help lobby state lawmakers to repeal the Gap Elimination Adjustment which district leaders say is negatively impacting state aid allotments.

The committee, in a notice on the district website, urges residents to write a letter so that lawmakers realize how the GEA is “detrimental to quality education on Long Island.” The lawmakers on the list include Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Phil Boyle, Assemblymen Joe Saladino and Andrew Raia.

The notice provides a form letter, which can be accessing by clicking here, that residents can copy and paste and email out to lawmakers, or print and send in snail mail form.

The notice states the committee needs “your support to encourage our legislators to repeal the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) during the state budget process in the 2014-2015 school year,” and goes onto explain how the GEA is a formula in the state budget that reduces the amount of aid each school district receives.

“New York State introduced the GEA in 2009-10 when it was known as the Deficit Reduction Assessment in order to partially reduce the state’s $10 billion budget deficit. To date, West Islip’s aid has been reduced over $17 million as a result of the GEA,” states the notice.

The Legislative Action Committee (LAC) was formed in 2006 to advocate on behalf of the residents of West Islip, and according to the notice, it is focused on relief from unfounded mandates and unfavorable legislation as well as local traffic safety issues.

The form letter notes that the original purpose of the GEA was to reduce state support to public schools in order to close the state’s own $10 billion budget deficit.

“This occurred, however, while demands on our schools continued to grow due to changing regional demographics, a weakened local economy, and the implementation of an array of expensive State Education Department initiatives. This annual practice is detrimental to quality education on Long Island and is not acceptable to taxpayers,” states the letter.

“The West Islip School District has laid off teachers, administrators and support staff; consolidated  and closed two elementary schools; increased class sizes; reduced  athletic, music and the arts, and enrichment programs; and delayed facilities preservation. At the same time, expenditures which school districts have no control over –such as pensions, benefits and health insurance–continue to grow.”

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