NYSUT brought its Fund Our Future bus to the school as part of its ongoing campaign to make some noise throughout the state about how many schools are owed Foundation Aid by the state. Albany is owed $31.8 million.
Superintendent Kaweeda Adams said less than 50 percent of the district’s funding comes from the state, forcing local taxpayers to bear the burden. This occurs as the state continues to impose a 2-percent property tax cap, which NYSUT continues to fight to amend.
One of the school’s basic needs is more space. Staff members squish into offices in triplicate; closets are used as classrooms. Sheridan is a community school, but the lack of space prevents it from being able to offer some of its parent services. Dental services are provided by a mobile van.
The school needs literacy aides, coaches and health care professionals, including behavioral specialists.
Jen Wilson, literacy coach and reading teacher, said many students have not been exposed to books; some are not spoken to often at home. Parents may be working extra jobs, or missing, or neglectful. Words, numbers, animals may all be new to them.
“This is what changes the course of their life,” she said. “We need funding.”
Melissa Hunt, kindergarten teacher, said there are students who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused. Sometimes they are hungry, or sometimes something bad happened to them the night before, and they can’t verbalize it, she said.