Educators plan March 19 community forum

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Community members from throughout the Finger Lakes Region — parents, students, teachers, school support staff, and taxpayers — are expected to gather at Hobart William Smith College at 7 p.m. March 19 in the Albright Auditorium on St. Clair Street (off of Route 14) for an informational forum. The theme for the evening is “Respect Public Education. It works!”

The event aims to inform the community about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education budget and about the “education reforms” he has attached to his proposed budget. Supporters of public education attending the forum will conduct a “positive picket,” beginning approximately 30 minutes before the event along Route 14.

Dr. Steven Uebbing, professor at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, will be the moderator, and will begin the actual forum with an overview of the Governor’s proposals and their potential impacts. Invited panelists will then share their own perspectives.

Panelists include: Geneva Superintendent Trina Newton; Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES District Superintendent Scott Bischoping; FLCC Director of Development Amy Pauly; Penn Yan Board of Education Member (and President of the Four Counties School Board Association) Kathy Guenther; Greg Lazzaro, Seneca Falls Supervisor, Seneca County Board of Supervisors; Geneva Reading Teacher Kathleen Passalacqua; Seneca Falls Parent Kristina Knight; and Penn Yan Middle School student Jenna Curbeau.

Following the panelists’ comments, audience members will be invited to share their comments and/or to ask questions of the moderator and the panelists.

Forum organizers plan to close the event with a “call to action,” encouraging attendees to let the Governor and their local legislators know how they feel about the proposed budget and the reform proposals.

N.Y. State senators and assemblymen invited to the forum include Sen. Mike Nozzolio, and Assemblymen Brian Kolb and Phil Palmesano. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was invited to participate in this forum by certified mail in early February, but neither he nor his staff have replied.

This forum is one of many organized and held throughout the state since the governor unveiled his proposals. Among the many concerns that have been raised in opposition to his plans are that they reduce local control of school decisions, hold school funding hostage to his legislative proposals, assert that New York schools are “failing,” and shift public tax dollars to private schools.

More information can be obtained by contacting either of the co-chairs of the event, Joy Martin (315-945-4571/jmartin98@rochester.rr.com) or Tina Webber (315-521-7367/twebber@pycsd.org).