District Welcomes Local Officials for Educational Advocacy Conversation

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The district hosted an Educational Advocacy Legislative Forum at Dodd in order to discuss prominent issues and topics of interest to the community with their elected representatives in Albany. The forum, which was coordinated by the Freeport PTA Council and moderated by Council President Robyn Workman, featured New York State Senator Michael Venditto and State Assemblyman Brian Curran speaking directly with members of the Board of Education, administrators, staff members, students and community residents on various educational and state-of-the-district topics.
    
“Senator Venditto and Assemblyman Curran have proven themselves to care very deeply for our community and helping middle class families,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, who was joined at the forum by the Board of Education and members of the district’s central administration. “Both Senator Venditto and Assemblyman Curran want to make state government more responsive, and are fierce advocates for public education and more specifically, for Freeport schools. We are very fortunate to have such great leaders protecting Freeport’s interests in a very passionate way.”
    
District staff and residents echoed PTA requests to the elected officials about unfreezing Foundation Aid to allow students to receive their fair share; allowing tax levy cap exclusions for enrollment increases; Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and special education services; revising the tax levy cap legislation so that the cap cannot be set at less than two percent; providing funding for mandate relief; and providing additional funding for pre-kindergarten programs. The district also outlined challenges it is facing, including a tax levy cap near zero; frozen Foundation Aid that does not comply with the court decision under the CFE lawsuit; a significant increase in enrollment (by nearly 600 students since 2010, including unaccompanied minors); increases in costs caused by unfunded mandates; and a shortfall in state aid (as indicated by the governor’s proposal) that would threaten the maintenance of programs and the ability to meet the needs of the increased enrollment.
    
Senator Venditto and Assemblyman Curran promised to continue the conversation and advocate for Freeport schools in Albany, and praised the students and community members in attendance for showing initiative and expressing their concerns.
    
“I see a lot of young men and women here with us, and I just cannot emphasize enough the importance of your presence tonight,” said Senator Venditto. “I want you all to rest assured that as we go through the education segment of the budget, I will keep the focus of it on you. You young people are our future. We are going to fight, scratch and claw to make sure you and our teachers, principals, administrators, boards and PTAs have what they need from Albany to get the job done. You are our future, and we want that future to remain bright.”
    
“You have a leg up here in Freeport,” said Assemblyman Curran, “with fantastic leadership, in both your superintendent and your board, as well as your teachers, who are very active. I see them every single year in Albany, fighting for additional aid. It’s a great first step, and I want to thank everyone for allowing me to be here tonight.”
    
The Educational Advocacy Legislative Forum served as a venue for members of the district to voice their concerns to officials directly involved with the conversations in Albany. It was also part of the district’s ongoing endeavors to preserve and enhance its programs and ensure student success.