Modest School Aid Increase in State Budget Cements Cuomo Brand as Penny Pincher on Educational Equity
Assembly Unity Key to Defeating Governor’s Plan to Repeal Foundation Aid formula and Minimizing Diversion of Funds from Public Schools to Privately Run Charters
The Governor and the Legislative Leaders announced a state budget deal. It includes around a $1 billion increase in school aid including $700 million in new Foundation Aid, although the exact distribution among school districts is not yet available. New York State owes $4.3 billion in Foundation Aid to schools statewide as a result of the decision of the New York State Court of Appeals in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. This funding is necessary to improve the quality of education in economically disadvantaged school districts. Fifty-eight percent of the funds are owed to Black and Brown students. The New York State Board of Regents recommended a $1.47 billion increase in Foundation Aid this year and a three year phase in of the full amount. This Budget agreement contains less than half of the recommended Foundation Aid increase, although it does include $272 million more than the meager $428 million proposed by Governor Cuomo. In a major victory, Governor Cuomo’s proposal to repeal the Foundation Aid formula entirely was defeated.
“The Assembly Majority fought hard for our public school children and it was an uphill battle with both Governor Cuomo and the Senate Republican-IDC Majority Coalition standing in the way. In a major victory, Governor Cuomo’s plan to repeal the Foundation Aid formula was defeated. The Foundation Aid increase is modest, but it is a significant improvement on the truly meager Foundation Aid proposal offered by the Governor,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“This budget cements Andrew Cuomo’s brand as a penny-pincher when it comes to educating Black, Brown and economically disadvantaged students. As a result of Governor Cuomo’s tight fisted approach to our children, some schools will make further classroom cuts, others will tread water without being able to afford needed improvements, and for some modest improvements will result. But, once again Governor Cuomo has failed to deliver the dramatic improvement necessary to equalize educational opportunity for Black, Brown and economically disadvantaged students.
“It is a shame that for the Senate Republican-IDC Majority Coalition the political priority was advocating for privately run charter schools whose billionaire backers have been a cash cow for their reelection campaign accounts. Instead of joining with the Assembly Democrats to fight for our public schools, the Senate Republican-IDC Coalition prioritized privately run charter schools. Any increased funding for privately run charter schools cuts into funding available for public schools. Due to the strong pro-public education stance taken by Speaker Heastie and the Assembly Majority, the money diverted from public schools to privately run charter schools this coming year was minimized; this is despite the fact that both the Governor and the Senate Majority wanted much more.”