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Kolb: Back to school excitement fills late summer air

From the Desk of Brian Kolb…

For New Yorkers, the unmistakable signs of fall are upon us; the New York State Fair is finally underway, the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course will be run this weekend and the excitement of postseason baseball and preseason football has filled the air. For children and young adults, all of this means getting ready for a new school year.

The school year is a wonderful time when students are exposed to new ideas, make new friends and find new interests. Through those experiences, students will become future business leaders, public servants and productive members of society. They are our greatest resource and they must be treated as such. The New York State Assembly Minority Conference has consistently and aggressively advocated for legislation that would improve the way education is funded and administered in New York, as well as fought for measures to ease the financial burden for teachers and residents who incur education-related costs. We will continue to do so when session reconvenes in January.

NEW YORK’S HIGH COST OF LIVING CHALLENGES TEACHERS, PARENTS

Sadly, New York’s onerous taxes, mandates and regulations have made it difficult for some families to afford basic school supplies and clothes for their children. Many teachers have often compensated for these short-comings by contributing their own money to help struggling families and students. The Minority Conference has offered legislation to help reduce the costs to teachers and families grinding through the state’s dismal economic climate.

Bill A.8170 would establish two tax-free weeks for school supply purchases, A.5214 would make college supplies a tax-deducible expense and A.4350 would provide a $500 tax credit to teachers who contribute or purchase supplies, pay for field trip costs or help with student expenses. Reducing education-related costs for parents and teachers, as these measures would, is a smart investment for New York.

SOME TIPS TO START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT

An influx of children going back to school will have a big impact on motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns. There will be school buses loaded with kids during high-volume commuter hours and lots of little ones crossing streets near their schools and homes. Please be cautious when driving during the upcoming school year. Exercising a little caution will go a long way toward ensuring the 2016-2017 school year is safe and successful.

Also, for parents of young school children, consider some measures to ease back into the routine of a new school year. Take a tour of your child’s school and take some time to meet their teachers. Encourage them to reconnect with old friends, and be open to making new ones. Provide them a quiet place to do homework each night—not in front of the TV— and remember to give them healthy meals to eat and get them to bed on time. Together, we can give New York’s children a great chance to blossom into the successful leaders they each are capable of becoming.

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