I am very proud of the educational systems that New York State has established and am confident that our students are among the best and brightest across the country at primary, secondary and higher educational institutions. Ensuring that students across New York State continue to receive a quality competitive education is one of my highest priorities. With 13 public schools and many private schools in my Assembly District, I take an active role working with administrators, teachers, staff, parents and, most importantly, the students. Each year our educational institutions seek assistance to supplement funding from the state, and each year I work tirelessly to ensure that these institutions are supported.
One of the biggest issues that our schools face is unfunded mandates. Across the board, unfunded mandates create unnecessary burdens to our struggling school districts. Local school districts and BOCES are mandated to provide over 150 reports annually, creating an arduous, expensive and time-consuming process. I support legislation that would reduce the amount of paperwork that is required by these institutions and am always looking for proactive solutions to reduce mandates on our districts.
In 2008, I worked closely with the Genesee Valley BOCES and former Senator Mary Lou Rath on legislation that corrected a typographical error. The legislation was passed and signed into law by Governor Paterson ensuring that the Genesee Valley BOCES received the funds rightly reserved for their program operation.
This year, many school districts were unable to travel to Albany to visit the Capitol due to budget constraints. I saw the need to fill this gap and have created an interactive virtual tour of Albany for those students who are unable to visit Albany. I feel that reading about government and our Capitol is not enough, students need pictures and interaction to solidify the concepts that they review in the classroom, and this interactive program has provided them with the advanced concept of learning which they would have lacked.