Gov. Cuomo announces help for Buffalo schools

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- There’s a new initiative to help turn around New York State’s failing schools and it could help students in Buffalo.

Districts that are struggling will now have access to more money through a measure introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday. Governor Cuomo estimates it will help 60,000 students across the state.

The $100 million Upstate Distressed Schools Fund can be tapped into by those districts that can prove a dire need for it, which includes Buffalo Public Schools. Local school leaders and lawmakers are optimistic with the measure, but are concerned it could come with strings.

Gov. Cuomo introdcued the fund in Yonkers. It’s one of the the state’s five upstate school districts, which also include Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester. Yonkers is sitting on a $28 million deficit. Gov. Cuomo hopes this new funding could turn things around for all of the major struggling districts.

“Yonkers is doing well, Yonkers reminds me of Buffalo,” said Gov. Cuomo. “Those are cities that were struggling for many years but you feel a new energy in Yonkers. There’s a different feeling, there’s more hope.”

Buffalo School Board Member Carl Paladino thinks the Governor is finally seeing the scope of the problem, and more funding could play an important role in turning things around.

“Buffalo is so bad, with 46 out of 58 schools failing,” said Paladino. “It’s really a recognition that these urban school districts can’t repair themselves while they’re controlled by the unions like they are.”

Senator Marc Panepinto is hesistant.

“The devil is always in the details,” said Sen. Panepinto. “Yes, while I am excited that a $100 million is being made available to the five upstate districts, I want to see what else, if anything, is linked to the money.”

He told News 4 one of his concerns is that the funding will be tied to the Education Investment Tax Credit, which would give millions in tax breaks to the very wealthy. The two aren’t linked now, but Panepinto said if they were, it could affect whether the measure gets the green light.

“If the $100 million is linked to the Education Investment Tax Credit, which would give $100 million in tax breaks to the very rich around the state, then I’m not so sure it will pass,” said Sen. Panepinto

The fate of this new funding package will be decided soon, as there are only a few days left in New York State’s legislative session.

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