2 school superintendents react to Cuomo’s State of the State

Two area school superintendents agree with initiatives Gov. Andrew Cuomo featured in his State of the State Address concerning education.

But they also mention one item Cuomo didn’t bring up in his speech – getting rid of the gap elimination adjustment.

Cuomo’s two primary initiatives for education in his speech were:

** A $2 billion fund to be set up (from borrowing) to help all school districts in the state take full advantage of the latest computer technology. Voters would have to approve this borrowing.
** Offering full-day pre-kindergarten classes for all students.

Fulton Superintendent William Lynch and Phoenix Superintendent Judith Belfield both said they agree pre-kindergarten is important for young students and keeping up with technology in schools is important.
But they are concerned about where the money is going to come from to pay for the pre-K idea and also wonder exactly for what they could spend the technology money.

The gap elimination adjustment was not mentioned by Cuomo in his speech, much to the dismay of Lynch and Belfield. This adjustment was put into place in the 2009-10 school year – the state held back some of the state aid allotted to each school district to help the state with its budget shortfalls.

Belfield said last year, Phoenix saw $2.1 million of its state aid held back by the state.

“With the Regents reforms and all the initiatives we’re in on now, this hurts,” she said. Phoenix is increasing its staff development and has begun more work at the high school to ensure students are college and career ready when they graduate.

“One thing I’d do if I had that $2.1 million is hire two more reading teachers,” she said. “I could fund all the programs I need and not have to raise taxes.”

Lynch said Fulton lost $1.5 million in the latest gap elimination adjustment.

“If I had $1.5 million, I could relax some of the tax pressure on our taxpayers,” he said. “I think before (Cuomo) looks at new things, he should give us the money that the state aid formula says we’re supposed to get.”

Both Lynch and Belfield said they do not offer pre-K to all students due to money.

“We don’t have full pre-K here,” Belfield said. “We have enough funding (from a grant) for 58 slots, but our typical class of entering kindergartners is about 130.”

She said pre-K can be a great help to children from families living in poverty or families that do not have the time to help children prepare for school.

“If a child doesn’t keep up on their reading during the summer they can lose a half year of reading ability,” she said. “Pre-K will help as long as he funds it. Right now, it costs us to run the program.”

Lynch agreed. He said Fulton has offered pre-K since 1998 and today it serves about 155 children. But a typical entering kindergarten class in Fulton has nearly 250 children.

He said pre-K has helped children from lower-income homes increase their vocabularies, increase their language development and “children who had gone to pre-K did not have school adjustment issues.”

“I’m very supportive of this,” he said. “But who is going to pay for the program and pay for the transportation?” he asked.

The two superintendents agreed many rural districts with no access to Internet would benefit from the $2 billion technology referendum, called the Smart Schools Initiative.

Lynch and Belfield said this would help their districts if they are allowed to use this money to update old technology, install new wiring or buy laptops. Lynch also said Cuomo wants the money to come through competitive grants – “it’s too bad he’s doing it this way,” he said.

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

This past week, Gov. Cuomo presented his 2014 State of the State address.

For the first 30 minutes of the approximately one-and-a-half hour speech, the Governor reviewed what he saw as successes during his first three years in office.  During this part of his speech, his main point was that state government, which has often been labeled by the media as dysfunctional, is now working again thanks namely to his leadership.

In some cases, he has a point.  For example, we have passed several on-time budgets which were a rarity under previous administrations.  In addition, over the past three years, state spending has been held in check (although it might be argued that spending was held in check due to economic realities and not because of strong political leadership. Nevertheless, increases have been kept under 2 percent).  Cuomo also stated while great strides have been made to improve the Upstate economy, more needs to be done.  As far as “more needs to be done,” I strongly agree with the Governor.

It was at this point in his speech that the Governor pivoted away from what he labels as his successes to what he wants to accomplish this year.  I was pleased that providing tax relief was his number one priority.  If we are ever going to revive the Upstate economy, the first order of business needs to be to lower the state’s tax burden on its citizens.  In his address, the Governor proposes to:

** Eliminate the Corporate franchise tax for Upstate manufacturers;

** Speed up the phase-out of 18-A, a surcharge on utilities that is passed on to consumers; and,

** Freeze property taxes for two years by having the state provide a personal income tax credit to homeowners if localities stay within the 2 percent property tax cap and take steps to share or consolidate services.

These proposals are a good start in helping New York shed its reputation as the highest-taxed state in the nation.  Indeed, I would like to go further and address why our state taxes–primarily, our property taxes–are so high.  To provide long-term property tax relief we need to address the problem of state mandates on school districts and localities, our Medicaid system, and equitable state funding for schools.

Following his call to lower taxes, the Governor then stated that there is no greater economic development program for our state than our education system.  In many respects, he is right.  A raise in socioeconomic status begins with a quality education.  In order to improve our state’s education system, the Governor proposes a $2 billion bond referendum to provide capital for the state to improve technology in the classroom.  In his speech, he also proposed bonuses of for teachers who are deemed “highly effective.”  I think both of these proposals have merit and look forward to seeing more information regarding them.

The Governor concluded his speech by saying generally that we need to restore public trust in state government.  It would be hard for anyone to argue with this proposition in light of the rash of legislators who have been accused of public corruption as of late.  To combat this problem, Cuomo calls for, among other things, public financing of campaigns. Unfortunately, it seems lost on the Governor that the large majority of legislators who have been accused of corruption are from NYC–a place where they have public financed campaign (albeit not for state offices).  Indeed, some of the alleged corruption actually arose from NYC’s system of public financing of campaigns.  Simply put, public financing of campaigns will not help restore the public’s trust on government.

Obviously, there were several more proposal set forth in his State of the State address and I look forward to hearing more details about them over the next few weeks.  I remain optimistic that 2014 can be a very successful legislative year for New York state.

Correction: In the column dated Dec. 30, 2013, there was an error.  It stated there were roughly 1.6 billion people that have enrolled in Obamacare when it should have read 1.6 million enrollees.  I apologize for the mistake.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.


State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

I’ve always been a dog person and today, couldn’t imagine life without my lovable yellow lab “Gunner.” That’s why I’m pleased to report that just recently, a measure I cosponsored to allow municipalities to regulate pet dealers was signed into law.  The new law will give local governments the authority to enact stronger measures to protect the well-being of animals and will help to crack down on puppy mills—inhumane commercial dog-breeding facilities that may sell animals in pet stores, online or directly to the public. 

Not only am I working to prevent animal abuse, I’m also working to spotlight the hundreds of pets across Central and Northern New York who are looking to be adopted into caring homes.

That’s why I’m teaming up with the local animal shelters to feature “Pets of the Week,” on my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov, and on my Facebook page.  There, you’ll also find contact information for local shelters that are home to hundreds of other animals looking for loving caregivers.

According to recent statistics, an estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters and rescues. If you’re considering adopting, it’s important to remember that bringing a new pet into your home is a big step that comes with a lot of responsibilities.  Here are several guidelines you can use to determine if you’re ready:

  • ** Make sure you have the financial resources necessary to care for a pet—that includes being able to budget enough money to pay for veterinarian visits, food, toys, bedding collars and other necessities;

** Is your home ready for a pet?  If you rent, it’s important to determine whether your landlord allows pets, and if so, what types.  In addition, the size of your home should also complement the type of pet you select.  For example, smaller dogs, like Dachshunds, Pugs and Cocker Spaniels are well-suited for apartments and larger dogs such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds need more room;

** You should also determine whether you have the time in your schedule to care for a pet.  Pets cannot be ignored when you are tired or busy, and require food, water, regular exercise and other types of care every day of the year;

** Is your family ready?  If you have little ones under the age of six, you may want to consider waiting a few years before you adopt, as younger children typically have a more difficult time understanding the way to properly handle a pet;

When you adopt a pet, you not only open your home, you open your heart too.  If you’re ready to care for a pet, I encourage you help an animal in need by considering adopting from a local shelter today.


Salmon River fishing museum hosts open house Jan. 19

The Salmon River International Sport Fishing Museum will hold the first in a series of monthly open house events from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19.

Michael Riordan, board president, will speak about the history of the B.F. Gladding Corp. from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Riordan will discuss the nation’s first fishing museum and the growth of the Gladding Corp. from 1900 to 1985. Items in the former Gladding collection are displayed at the sportfishing museum at 3044 state Route 13, Pulaski.

“In 1966, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller declared South Otselic, the home of Gladding, as the ‘Fishing Line Capitol’ of the world,” said Riordan.  “During this period of time, Gladding would purchase companies like Magic Snell, Glenn Evans, South Bend, Horrocks Ibbotson and at least 15 other companies. If you enjoy history, you will enjoy hearing about this American company that survived several wars, the Great Depression, and the challenges of a changing world.”

The museum will host an open house the third Sunday afternoon of every month. Museum curator Fred Betts will speak about the history of the fishing creel and share his personal collection of creels Sunday, Feb. 15.

For more information call the museum at 298-2213, Riordan at 374-2997 or visit www.facebook.com/pages/Salmon-River-International-Sport-Fishing-Museum/152643681444857.

Valley Viewpoints

Thanks Valley News

The Weston Family would like to thank The Valley News for the wonderful opportunity for us to be included in the recognition of Fulton Families.

It was a privilege and an honor for us to join the Pawlewicz, Hayden and Schremp families in this monthly series.  We look forward to future articles as there are many fine families residing within our greater Fulton community.

We truly appreciate the time that assistant editor Ashley Casey spent with us.  She is a very professional young woman who represented the newspaper extremely well.


Bob & Sandy on behalf of the Weston Family


Local business changes hands

Ontario Cleaners, this well-established family business that has been owned and operated by Patrice Segretto and family since 1992, has been sold to Jeanne McManus.

Please join us in wishing her good luck and we would like to thank all of our loyal customers over the past 21 years.

Patrice Segretto and family


Helping Hands

On Thursday evening, Jan. 9,  I attended a meeting between representatives of the Oswego County Legislature and City of Fulton elected officials.

In attendance were Kevin Gardner, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, Linda Lookwood, vice chair (District 11 County Legislator), Dan Farfaglia (District 24 County Legislator), Jim Karasek (District 22 County Legislator) and representing the city of Fulton were Mayor Ronald Woodward and Common Council President Dan Knopp (second ward common councilor ).

The meeting was the result of the county reaching out to the city in hopes that there may be some way the county might be able to the city in its time of distress.

There were ideas brought to the table by both sides. They ranged from tipping fees to foreclosures. There weren’t any bad ideas and they all brought a lot of discussion by both sides.

When all was said and done, both parties agreed that until the State Board comes in with its recommendations, we wouldn’t be able to bring anything to the full Legislature or to any committees.

A question was asked that with the state’s money and recommendations, will the taxes in the city of Fulton go down. The answer was “NO”.

With that answer another question was asked — that if the state took back their portion of the retirement contribution and if the state lessened the state mandates would the taxes go down. The answer was “YES”.

I know both of these were no brainers. The point is that everyone should realize that the state is the key factor here and people have to contact their state representatives (Will Barclay and Patty Richie) and let them know what they need to do.

All in attendance agreed that the cities of Fulton and Oswego are key to the survival of Oswego County. We all stated that the City of Fulton was once the shining star of both the county and state and now it is in need of some help from both the state and county.

We all left the meeting with the agreement to meet again and the county legislators that represent the city of Fulton on the Oswego County Legislature agreed to set up a secluded meeting on a monthly basis with the mayor.

I feel that with all the above said and done, this is the chance for the City of Fulton to again become the leader in both the state and county. It will take the city coming up with ideas of their own and recommendations. The state wants us (the City of Fulton) to be the poster child for the governor’s new program. This is our chance to go forward with our own ideas letting them know that with these ideas the city and the plan will succeed. We must remember no request is a bad one. The request not asked for and needed is bad. Without a plan of our own we may just be right back here in less than 10 yrs.


Frank Castiglia Jr.

County Legislator-25 District City of Fulton


DEC issues new regulations to combat invasive species

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing new regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) at DEC boat launches, Commissioner Joe Martens said.

The proposed regulatory changes require boaters to remove all visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and associated equipment and to drain boats before launching at or leaving a DEC boat launch and waterway access.

DEC will accept public comments on the proposal through Feb. 24.  The full text of the proposed regulation can be found on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.

“These proposed regulatory changes are the latest in a series of actions DEC has taken over the past few years to combat the spread of harmful invasive species, including the emerald ash borer,” Martens said.

“Cooperation and assistance from the public is essential in order for these efforts to succeed. Boats, trailers and the equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody and significantly harm recreational and commercial use of a waterbody while having a detrimental effect on native fish, wildlife and plants.

“This regulation is an important component of DEC’s efforts to help ensure AIS-free waters remain free and additional AIS are not introduced to other waters,” he said.

Boaters are advised to carefully check their boats, trailers and equipment for any plant or animal material that may be clinging to it and remove it if found.

Nuisance Invasive Species Disposal Stations are provided at many DEC boat launches for this purpose. The boat should also be completely drained, including live wells, bait wells and bilge tanks, and dried before it is used in another waterbody.

Recommended drying times for each month of the year can be calculated at http://100thmeridian.org/emersion.asp.

Additional information on aquatic invasive species and preventing their spread can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html.

Comments on the proposed regulations can be sent via e-mail to fishregs@gw.dec.state.ny.us, or mailed to Edward Woltmann, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY  12233-4753.  Hard copies of the full text may also be requested from Mr. Woltmann at the above address.

Oswego Hospital welcomes its first baby of the year

Oswego Hospital welcomed its first baby of 2014 at 4:19 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Aedrienn Plumley was the hospital’s first newborn, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 21 inches long.

Parents are Megan Plumley and Bobby Hoyt. Aedrienn joins two sisters at home.

Members of the Oswego Hospital Auxiliary presented the new family with several gifts to mark the distinction of being the first baby of the year.

Oswego Hospital’s maternity center offers large, attractive private labor and delivery rooms with the latest technology. Each labor and delivery room also has its own bathroom with a large soaking tub. There are also 12 postpartum rooms, which have their own bathrooms, as well as a cheery, homelike atmosphere.

The department is staffed 24 hours a day with either an obstetrician or certified nurse midwife with physician collaboration and with neonatal nurse practitioners for immediate newborn care. For a tour of the facility, call 349-5572.

Flooding hits Sandy Creek area; residents should take precautions

Flooding is occurring west of Route 3 in the Town of Sandy Creek along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, and Town officials are urging residents and homeowners to take precautions and follow flood safety tips.

Town Supervisor Nancy Ridgeway, Town Highway Superintendent Mike Kastler, and County Legislator Margaret Kastler (1st District), along with Oswego County Emergency Management Office Director Dale A. Currier are monitoring the situation closely.

“The town wants to ensure the safety of residents,” Supervisor Ridgeway and Highway Superintendent Kastler said. “People should be very aware of their surroundings.”

People who have a life-threatening situation should call 911.

Town officials are asking residents and property owners west of Route 3 in the town to check their residences, secure propane and other gas tanks, and turn off the electric power if necessary.

“Please don’t travel over flooded roadways,” Highway Superintendent Michael Kastler stressed. “A few inches of water can wash away a vehicle. Turn around and go another way.”

The governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency for heavy lake effect snow on the Tug Hill last week includes Oswego County and is still in effect, Currier said. County Emergency Management and town officials are working to secure state resources to aid the flooding situation in the town.

For updates, people can go to the town’s web page at www.sandycreekny.us.

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