ALBANY, N.Y. (August 19, 2020) — Last week the New York State budget office informed school districts statewide that it was temporarily withholding 20 percent of the State’s payments. This presents a major challenge for all New York school districts, but is catastrophic for the Big Five. Statewide, New York’s schools stand to lose over $5 billion in state aid.
“Governor Cuomo has chosen to hold state education aid hostage in a political game of chicken with Congress, and New York’s students are the ones paying the price. There is no longer a hypothetical: the State’s withholding of school aid is forcing Rochester City School District — which has one of the highest child poverty rates in the nation — to cut $128 million from its budget,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“Rochester is only the first district to announce the consequences of New York State withholding aid; districts across the state are facing the same impossible calculations right now. Districts were already struggling to find the resources to meet students’ needs through a combination of remote, in-person and blended learning. For New York State to intentionally hold back 20 percent of state funding for public education at any time is unconscionable; to do so now, weeks before schools are set to reopen amidst a pandemic, is a direct attack on the safety of students, educators and our communities.
“While Governor Cuomo is promoting his book on how New York overcame the COVID-19 pandemic, many New York communities are still in crisis. Instead of inviting the ultra wealthy to dinner, he should be raising their taxes to protect our schools from these devastating cuts.
“The legislature has handed over unprecedented power to Governor Cuomo, relinquishing their responsibility to the communities they represent. But it’s time for the New York State Assembly and Senate to get back to Albany and pass legislation to raise revenue to protect our schools. New York’s students can’t wait: we must prioritize children and their future by protecting our public schools.”