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Gov. Cuomo outlines school aid proposal and education agenda for 2019-20

January 2019

 

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state budget proposal that includes a $956 million school aid increase for 2019-20. Under the governor’s proposal, total school aid would be $27.7 billion, which represents a statewide increase of 3.6 percent.

 

Across the state, the bulk of the school aid increase is in two major categories: $338 million in additional Foundation Aid and $619.7 million to reimburse districts for designated expenses such as transportation, construction and BOCES services.

 

While the executive proposal for the state budget calls for a $40,000 increase in Foundation Aid for Queensbury Union Free School District in 2019-20, that increase only equals 0.25 percent. In addition, the district has been underfunded by more than $36 million over the past decade. Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Whittemore explains that other districts have been overfunded through the years because the state never fully phased in its Foundation Aid Formula.

 

“Foundation Aid is the primary source of funding for everyday school operations, and it was originally intended to ensure more aid equity among schools,” said Whittemore.

 

“Unfortunately, the Governor's proposal falls far short of the funding that is necessary to support public schools in New York State,” added Superintendent Dr. Douglas Huntley. “The Governor's proposal is about half of what organizations like New York State School Boards Association, the Educational Conference Board and the New York State Board of Regents believe is necessary to adequately fund schools for 2019-20.”

 

The state’s Property Tax Cap law would become permanent under the governor’s plan. Adopted in 2011, the law limits growth of local property taxes, including those for local school districts, to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Final tax levy limits for school district are also subject to a number of variables.

 

The executive budget proposal is the formal beginning of budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature, with a final state budget due on or before April 1.

 

“Education Equity” formula to address funding disparities between schools

 

Gov. Cuomo also proposed a new “Education Equity” formula as a way to end funding disparities between individual schools within a district. Last year, the state required new fiscal transparency reporting requirements for 76 school districts representing half of all students in the state. These reporting requirements expand to more than 300 districts this year.

 

The governor highlighted funding disparities based on these building-level reports and proposed a per-pupil allocation measure to ensure the highest-need students in a district’s highest-need schools receive the funding needed to improve educational outcomes.

 

Click here for a breakdown of projected state aid for each school district based on the governor’s proposal.

 

Additional funding for existing programs and new initiatives in the executive budget proposal:

 

  • An additional $15 million to expand universal pre-kindergarten programs across the state, prioritizing high-need districts, homeless students and students with disabilities.
  • Applying $3 million to address teacher shortages and recruit 250 new teachers through the We Teach NY program.
  • An additional $1.5 million to add 100 new teachers in high-poverty schools to the state’s Master Teacher Program.
  • An additional $11.8 million in Early College Higher Opportunity Funds to expand access to college and career options for high school students. This includes:
    • $1.8 million to make exams free for low income students;
    • $1 million to develop advanced program offerings in districts where offerings are limited;
    • $4 million to expand Early College High School; and
    • $5 million for 10 more P-Tech programs.
  • An increase in the minimum Community Schools funding level from $75,000 to $100,000.
  • An investment of $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively, to build districts’ mental health and restorative justice programs through training, professional development and other resources.
  • Give districts the authority to install automated cameras on school bus stop arms and increase the fine for passing a stopped school bus.