Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,
As you may already know, the annual school budget vote has been postponed until at least June due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the District is grappling with anticipated revenue reductions caused by a freeze on state aid and lower than expected sales tax receipts. At the same time, Governor Cuomo has said that significant reductions in aid to school districts and municipalities may be necessary to cover anticipated state revenue shortfalls.
We believe that these cuts would be extremely harmful to our schools and have the potential to hinder our students' education at a time when they will need more resources, not less, once distance learning concludes and the buildings reopen.
If you agree, we ask that you send the below letter to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand as well as Representative Engel, urging them to support aid to states in the next round of federal stimulus.
To send this letter to your congressional leaders, please visit the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association advocacy page and click the tile for "Federal Funds Needed for New York State." Then, copy and paste the letter text below into the message body field, fill out your personal information and click "Send Message."
Alternatively, you can email the respective officials directly via forms on their respective websites listed below:
We thank you in advance for participating in this campaign. Together, we can make a difference.
The Pelham Public Schools Advocacy and Community Engagement Committee
To: Hon. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Hon. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Hon. Representative Eliot L. Engel
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on New York State and our country as a whole. The social distancing measures that are necessary to protect our health and safety have ground economic activity to a halt, harming businesses and resulting in unprecedented levels of unemployment. Understandably, the first several phases of federal stimulus legislation have prioritized aid for hospitals and small businesses, but as this health crisis lingers, the economic hardship felt by our state threatens to decimate local school districts and harm students' education at a time when they need it the most.
According to Governor Cuomo, New York's budget deficit could extend to $10-15 billion due to lost revenue and increased cost associated with the pandemic. If not addressed, that shortfall would almost certainly lead to drastic reductions in school and municipal aid, perhaps as much as 20%, according to the Governor. For our District, that level of revenue reduction would create a more than $1.4 million shortfall in addition to the nearly $700,000 that must be covered due to the freezing of state education aid and projected loss of sales tax revenue.
Without federal assistance, these cuts can only be covered by increasing property taxes on residents who are already feeling the effects of an economy in turmoil or by decimating our school budget by way of reduced services, resources and opportunities for our students. The former would be devastating to our parents, seniors and businesses. The latter would threaten the education of our students, whose learning and growth have already been disrupted by weeks of distance learning as a result of buildings being closed.
This pandemic has created hardship and pain across all walks of life and I applaud your work to support our frontline workers, combat the spread of COVID-19, and aid our small businesses. Now it is time to support the states and local school districts so that students are not made to suffer further from this crisis. In the upcoming round of stimulus legislation, it is critical that the federal government provide direct funding to states to cover the projected revenue gaps for local school districts. If this issue is not addressed, the impact to our students will be dire.
Pelham, NY 10803