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Please join us on Feb. 11!Join us for "A Call to Action"
and learn how to advocate
for our public schools
Event to be held February 11,
7 p.m., at Niskayuna High School

Feb. 5, 2013—With the Capital Region still buzzing from last week’s unprecedented regional rally to avert the fiscal crisis facing public schools, educational stakeholders representing 47 school districts will reconvene Monday night to learn what they can personally do to advocate for change.

The Niskayuna Central School District will be the host this time for “A Call to Action,” part two of the landmark program, “Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril – Running Out of Time & Options,” which drew an overflow crowd of 1,500 school administrators, teachers, students, community members, and more than a dozen state legislators to Columbia High School on January 31.

Jan. 31 forum logo
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The event will be streamed LIVE for viewers around the state who want to learn more about how to advocate for change to address the financial crisis facing all schools unless significant action is taken during the 2013 New York State legislative session.

If you are unable to be there in person, you can watch it live at
Education Speaks.  The event will also be live-tweeted by Education Speaks editorial board members. If you’re on Twitter, follow @edspeaksny and #NYSchoolsInPeril to get the live scoop that night! You can also get updates via the Education Speaks Facebook page.

Following this memorable kick off event, hundreds pledged to do more than just listen about how years of state aid cuts are crippling our schools. By filling out the blue comment cards in that night’s program, they made a pledge to speak out for change by contacting their elected state representatives as they meet in Albany in the coming weeks to discuss public school funding for the 2013-14 year.

That’s what “A Call to Action” is all about. It’s a 90-minute follow-up workshop to be held at 7 p.m., February 11, in the auditorium of Niskayuna High School, Balltown Road, offering effective “how-to” strategies and techniques for helping parents, teachers and taxpayers like you reach out to lawmakers and take that important step in advocating for educational change.

Area education leaders hope Monday’s advocacy “how-to” program sequel will be every bit as powerful as the January 31 forum in terms of public support as they brace for yet another year of unpopular to untenable budget cuts that will affect urban, suburban and rural school districts alike.

“Our goal is to continue the momentum of what was started at Columbia High School just a few days ago,” said Superintendent Marie Wiles, who was joined by nearly 40 Guilderland stakeholders at the first forum. “While last week's event was a great starting point, there is still much more work to be done. We need to come together as a community to help our schools, and direct our energies towards the people that can influence meaningful change for our students."

Monday’s featured speakers will be Robert Lowry and Kyle Belokopitsky from New York State Council of School Superintendents. Their presentations will be followed by an audience question and answer session, then refreshments and conversation in the school cafeteria.

Guilderland stakeholders are asked to join in this important advocacy effort and do what they can to make a difference. Time is running out. Call the Office of the Superintendent at 456-6200, ext. 3102, today to confirm your attendance at the February 11 event. Bring your spouse, your student, a neighbor or a friend.

Why should you take the time to advocate?

Think about this …

In many public schools there is a genuine concern that the Class of 2012 may have received the best education that school districts will be able to offer for the foreseeable future. Add to that predictions that a significant number of school districts will be facing fiscal or educational insolvency over the next few years due to improper financial support from New York State, an inequity in funding statewide, and no significant relief from costly state mandates.

Finally, it is important to advocate because you schools educate your children, employ your neighbors, are funded by your tax dollars and influence property values and help attract property owners to your community.

Guilderland has lost $12.3 million over the past three years due to the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a cut in state education aid that Gov. David Paterson proposed as a one-time fix to help the state’s budget deficit but which has been used annually for the past three years, costing Capital Region schools a total of $305 million in state aid they otherwise would have received. As it stands now, the GEA is included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget for 2013-14, meaning a fourth straight year of devastating cuts to schools.

As a result of the GEA, Guilderland has eliminated 125 full-time equivalent positions throughout the past three years, leading to increased class sizes at all levels and fewer supports for faculty, staff and students who are struggling. Without your help, your schools will face even more reductions to programs and services for students in the future.

Becoming an advocate is easier than you think

Becoming an advocate for education is not as hard as you might think. The only prerequisite is a strong desire to stand up for our students and our schools, and be passionate and persistent in advancing the cause.

But understand this: effective advocates are prepared. They know the issues and plan their communications.

Join us Monday night for this 90-minute program and find out how!