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Education forum addresses funding, Common Core

GENEVA--Two representatives of the Penn Yan Central School District spoke during a public forum titled "Respect Public Education, It Works!" at Hobart and William Smith College Thursday, March 19. Among them were Penn Yan school board member and Four County School Board Association Steering Committee President Kathy Guenther and middle school student Jenna Curbeau. While many topics were covered during the forum, Guenther and Curbeau addressed the issues they were facing with fair funding for school districts, the Gap Elimination Adjustment, educator evaluation and the Common Core.
During the meeting, Guenther spoke about the need for fair funding for school districts. Guenther said Yates County has one in three children living in poverty, and while Penn Yan has not had to cut programs yet, they have cut staff. She added there have been greater losses in the area than in other districts, which she said forces residents to pay more in property taxes.
"You shouldn't have to worry about what zip code you live in to get fair funding," Guenther said. "That is usually what happens. It depends upon your school district, your zip code and you will get more money. We really don't have much more to cut out."
Guenther also touched on the issue of educator evaluation, saying the responsibility needs to be left with individual school districts.
"We don't need to have outside people coming in and telling us what we are or are not doing," Guenther said. "We have more of an idea ourselves of who our people are and how we should evaluate them."
Guenther said she had recently gone to Albany to lobby for the removal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, adding while it may be eliminated "we don't know if that funding will ever be restored."
Curbeau, a seventh grader at Penn Yan middle school, also spoke during the forum, discussing her experience with the Common Core standards.
"Last year was my first experience with Common Core, and it was quite a struggle," Curbeau said. "Common Core math was not introduced gradually. Beginning in elementary school and building upon the math skill and topics from year to year is what one might logically think. We jumped right into Common Core math last year as if we had been working with the modules since kindergarten, but in reality, I felt there were gaps in the math we were learning."

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