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Brady: Now is not the time to fund education for inmates

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POTSDAM - As school districts all over the state struggle to put together their 2014-2015 budgets, Potsdam Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said word of the governor’s plan to fund college education for prison inmates is not being well received in the education community.

“When schools are struggling and they want to defer money to inmates that doesn’t sit well with most of the public school community,” Mr. Brady said.

Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo have spoken our against the governor’s inmate education plan.

In a meeting held in Massena last week, Ms. Russell spoke out against the proposal. “It’s a slap in the face to the law abiding, hard working parents and students who are working to pay off college debt,” she said.

Sen. Griffo released a statement opposing the plan earlier this week.

“Prison is supposed to be a punishment for wrongdoing, not a Club Med where your family can come visit any time and your health issues and education are taken care of at zero cost,” he said. “Parents ask me all the time how the state can make college more affordable. They believe in the power of an education, but are clearly struggling to find the money to send their children to school. It’s an affront to those people, who have not run afoul of the law, to ask them to continue struggling while we give a college education away for free to prisoners.”

Mr. Brady said he has already met with Ms. Russell to discuss allocating more aid to school district. A meeting between area school superintendents with Mr. Griffo and Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie is also planned, he said.

In a statement released on Friday, Ms. Russell said she is working hard to bring increased aid to north country schools.

“It is clear that our schools cannot afford another year of cuts. If we are serious about preparing our students to compete and be successful in the world economy, we have to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment and begin to reverse its harmful cuts,” she said. “These cuts have gone on for far too long and our schools are hurting. It’s time to end this tax on our schools so they can provide the programs that keep our students engaged and have the opportunities necessary to enable our students to be successful.”

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