New York State United Teachers is visiting schools in the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley today to draw attention to the severe impact a lack of state funding has had on schools statewide. Union activists are also highlighting the need for new revenues that will enable the state to tackle educational inequality, and other pressing needs.

Meeting with local union leaders, school administrators and elected officials Thursday morning in Elmira, NYSUT called on state officials to make full funding of Foundation Aid, the underpinning of how New York funds schools, a top priority this legislative session. NYSUT also advocated for new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires that would generate billions of dollars in new revenue for essential state services.

During a stop at Diven Elementary School, educators and administrators noted that the Elmira City School District is owed $12.5 million in Foundation Aid. Educators and administrators say full funding would go a long way toward addressing students’ social-emotional needs, providing after-school programming and continuing the district’s 1:1 device program, which allows students to access laptops necessary for 21st Century lessons.

The Fund Our Future bus also traveled to the Schenevus Central School District later Thursday afternoon.

Schenevus is owed more than $700,000 and has been forced to cut AP classes, increase class sizes and go without a librarian because of underfunding.

“The state can’t just expect school districts to make due with another year of underfunding, forcing us to consider more cuts to our programs and services,” Schenevus Superintendent Theresa Carlin said. “Schenevus students deserve better. It’s time they got their fair share from the state.”

As the state budget takes shape, the Fund Our Future bus tour will stop in school districts around New York that, like Elmira and Schenevus, have been underfunded by the state. Additional tour dates and locations will be announced in the near future.