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Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, May 21

Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, May 21

Your Voice

Spa should adopt inclusionary zoning

Sustainable Saratoga applauds our city government for supporting new workforce rental housing developments in Saratoga Springs.

However, we encourage the City Council to go farther to foster a more economically resilient, stable, and Sustainable Saratoga by working to create a more diverse portfolio of housing opportunities.

The new generation of Saratoga residents can’t afford to live in the city where they were born.

Saratoga Springs needs a comprehensive strategy to provide housing across a range of income categories, without depending on government funding.

Most of the new affordable housing units target low-income households.

Middle-income households also need housing opportunities.

Diversity of household incomes within individual housing development projects would make them more inclusive, avoiding the problem of segregating housing by income.

Current projects are all rental units. Saratoga needs more home ownership opportunities, so that low- and middle-income households can build equity.

Almost all current workforce-housing projects depend on state and federal low-income tax credits. We caution the city against relying solely on unpredictable tax credits for its affordable-housing strategy.

We urge the City Council to formally adopt inclusionary zoning to address the inadequacies mentioned above. Inclusionary zoning, with creative local public-private financing efforts, would guarantee the development of new mixed-income rental and owner-occupied housing units.

The council has been studying the proposed Spa Housing Ordinance for several years. It’s time to stand up for the community and make a long-term commitment to sustainable affordable housing.
Art Holmberg
Saratoga Springs
The writer is chair of Sustainable Saratoga.


Reach compromise on the environment

Kudos to The Daily Gazette for their April 28 editorial "Time to get busy on environment," advocating action on climate change by the New York State Legislature before their summer recess.

As noted by The Gazette, the Climate and Community Protection Act ("CCPA", Senate bill S2992, Assembly bill A3876) is an ambitious piece of legislation that requires the Legislature’s full attention.

However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo included equally ambitious legislation in his Executive Budget proposal that had very similar goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for addressing environmental justice concerns.

Unfortunately, negotiations over the details of a compromise bill seem to have stalled, threatening what should be a slam-dunk piece of legislation for the environment and the Democratic majority.

I urge everyone with a stake in these negotiations to remain flexible and accept whatever changes are necessary to ensure passage this session of some of the strongest climate change legislation in the nation.

Otherwise, another year will pass before New York State is truly committed to a carbon-neutral economy and a just transition away from fossil fuels.
Bryan Swift



Nisky board member had info on issues

This is in response to Edward A. Carangelo's May 16 letter ("Backus will meet the challenges in Nisky"), and comments made by Board of Education member Brian Backus at the Meet the Candidates forum. In Mr. Carangelo's letter, he claims that Brian Backus stated "no member of the represented groups had chosen to speak to him before the meeting about the issues brought up to the board." Sadly, this statement is simply not true.

I serve as secretary for the Niskayuna School District Employees Association (NSDEA), which includes kitchen staff, custodial and cleaning staff, security, print shop, and IT personnel, bus drivers, and grounds and maintenance staff. As secretary, I drafted a list of urgent safety issues that was hand-delivered by our union president to each board member, including Mr. Backus, on March 12. We did not receive a reply, let alone an acknowledgment, from Mr. Backus or any other board member.
Mr. Backus made comments at the forum that our presence at a recent Board of Education meeting was disruptive because it overlapped on an evening honoring several of our students. I disagree. I'm glad that over 80 employees could attend and cheer our students on at a meeting that normally would have had a handful of attendees. Faculty and staff are the ones in Niskayuna who work directly with the students and provide all the educational, health, athletic, transportation and other services available at this great district. We are proud of their accomplishments, and our students always know they have our full support.
Richard Stigberg


Before voting in Schenectady’s school board election, consider the district’s school quality, reading and math scores, and graduation rates since 2013 when candidates Lewis, Reilly, and Chestnut were elected to the board and a new superintendent was hired.  
In 2019, the state Education Department identified six Schenectady elementary schools (Keane, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln, Paige, Pleasant Valley and Yates) that are among the lowest 5 percent of schools in the state. Only four district schools were not cited for academic deficiencies. 
Last year’s on-time graduation rate of 58 percent was no better than in 2013. Additionally, fewer than 50 percent of SCSD’s African-American and Latino students graduated on time in 2018.
Last year, English-Language Arts (ELA) proficiency rates for the district's African-American students was 15 percent and 17 percent for Latino students. Overall, 22 percent of Schenectady students were ELA proficient. The changes from 2013’s ELA proficiency rate is due to changes in state testing. Schenectady schools lagged behind statewide ELA proficiency increases.

In 2018, only 13 percent of all Schenectady third- through eighth-graders were math proficient. Math proficiency for African-American and Latino students was less than 10 percent. 

For details, see www.facebook.com/SDFelderman/

Whoever is elected to the board will need to press hard on academic improvements and hold the administration accountable.

Scot Felderman







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