Neither candidate running for the state Senate 57th District said they could support a state bill that would bring millions to schools in Western New York.
Republican candidate Assemblywoman Catharine Young of Olean said the Schools for New Yorks Future Act would shift billions of dollars to New York City. Nancy Bargar of Lakewood, felt uncomfortable supporting the legislation, admitting she has not read it.
Assemblywoman Youngs and Mrs. Bargars stances went against roughly 50 parents, teachers and students who rallied for support of the bill at Olean Middle School Thursday.
Residents in the 57th District consisting of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Livingston counties will cast a ballot for the seat on Tuesday.
The Albany-based lobby group Alliance for Quality Education led the rally with a cheer: One, two, three, four, schools are what were fighting for ... five, six, seven, eight, we need more funding from the state.
If the bill was adopted Olean City School District would receive an additional $2.5 million on top of the $16.6 million in state education aid its promised for 2005-06, according to the Alliance. The bill would aid Olean students and fix a broken state aid education formula, said Mark J. Ward, Olean School District superintendent.
Our resources are not what they could be if in fact the state and the Legislature as a group had the guts, you might say, to reform the system, Mr. Ward said. The system has not been working for some time. Its unfair, its unequal, its inequitable and its unpredictable. They have the power to change that but they dont have the will to do it.
Olean Board of Education President Laurie Branch said the bills passage would help local students.
There is no question that with additional funding we can do so much more for our students, Mrs. Branch said. They are our future. I cant think of a better place to invest.
Mrs. Bargar attended the rally. After listening to speakers at the rally and reading summaries of the bill, she said she believed she could support it, but felt uncomfortable pledging support having not read the entire text.
Young campaign spokesman John Gallagher said the Alliance for Quality Education is trying to send billions of dollars in funding from upstate to schools in New York City.
Cathy Young has a strong record on education, including supporting the largest ever spending increase for all New York State Schools, Mr. Gallagher said.
The bill is currently circulating the state Assembly for sponsorship, said Athena Waligore of the lobby group.
After the rally, supporters were scheduled to take a yellow school bus to Salamanca and Jamestown to hold similar rallies.