Legislators Discuss Education at PTC Breakfast

Shelley mayerState Senator Shelley MayerState and local leaders discussed education at the annual PTC Legislative Breakfast on Friday February 7 at Quaker Ridge School. The event was organized by PTC Legislative Advocacy Co-Chairs Lauren Fields and Rebecca Kirschner.

Panelists included representatives from the state, county and local level including:

Senator Shelley Mayer, NY State Senator, Chair of Senate Education Committee
George Latimer, Westchester County Executive
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, NY State Senator, Majority Leader
Amy Paulin, NY State Assemblywoman
Nan Mead, NYS Regent
Ben Boykin, Westchester Board of Legislators
Marc Samwick, Scarsdale Mayor

Each of the panelists gave an update on their work and views on educational issues and here are some of their comments:

State Senator Shelley Mayer who chairs the State Senate Education Committee reported that the committee is sparring with the governor to get more money for education. She said state school districts are owed billions of dollars in unpaid Foundation Aid. She opposes capping transportation and building aid and said the state’s number one priority is students and parents.

County Executive Latimer said, “We are fortunate to have a very educated workforce in this area. We have very supportive local and LatimerCounty Executive George Latimerstate officials.”

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins praised “friendship with other officials and their commitment to public service. Turning to the students who attended the event, she said, “We need to listen to them and the issues they raise.” Discussing the disparities among state school districts she said, “we need to strike a balance between schools doing well and those not doing well…..Scarsdale is where we want to be…. We need to harness the benefits of Scarsdale and spread throughout the state.” Referring to the passing of Regent Judith Johnson she said, “We need regents who understand that public education is exciting and produces kids who can lead the world.”CousinsState Senator Andrea Stewart-CousinsPaulinAssemblywoman Amy Paulin

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin who is a member of the Assembly’s Education Committee said, “Schools have always mattered in Scarsdale” She discussed, the Governor’s proposed state budget and what it means for Scarsdale, saying “We get about $1,054 per child, or $6.5 million, which is the lowest amount in state. The statewide mean/median is about $12,000 per child. We just want to maintain these levels.

She continued, “Building aid reimbursement issues are eliminating our ability to get bonds and repair schools. Building aid and BOCES aid are the biggest issues.
Paulin reported that she is working collaboratively and working hard to find a replacement for State Regent Judith Johnson who passed away.

State Regent Nan Mead is Co-Chair of State Aid Subcommittee. She said they are “Ready to revisit the Foundation Aid formula and pushing to fully fund the formula, which will benefit everyone.” She is also working on revising graduation standards and building civic engagement piece.

County Legislator Ben Boykin said that the Westchester Board of Legislators supports and funds Westchester Community College. Discussing other issues before the legislature he said they were reviewing the County budget, considering a ban of plastic bags to go into effect at the end of April, working on the construction of the Bronx River trail and funding to alleviate flooding in Scarsdale. He said, we are “Always looking to pass laws for the health and safety of the community.”BoykinCounty Legislator Ben Boykin

Mayor Marc Samwick reported that he works with the school district on day-to-day issues, like Butler Field lights, tree planting, and fixing buses. The Village Board is currently focused on traffic and pedestrian safety and implementing a Safe Routes to School program. Discussing proposed plans for development of the Freightway site, Samwick acknowledged that protecting schools is fundamental to any plan.

At the end of the session a student asked the panel, “How can we take the Scarsdale model elsewhere?” State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins acknowledged how fortunate the community is, saying, “You are living an extraordinary educational life as it relates to other students in this state.” We need everyone to have these same opportunities.”