FOR RELEASE: April 3, 2020
CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 320-2221 cell
The new state budget offers level funding for public education, at least for now, which is probably about the best school districts could have hoped for at a time when the state faces a potential $15 billion budget deficit.
Foundation aid – the largest and most important source of school funding – is flat, but largely because of $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funding for schools. Schools will continue to receive full reimbursement for building and transportation costs, BOCES services and in other critical aid categories.
There are bright spots in the budget: lawmakers opted not to consolidate ten state aid categories, rejected future reductions in building and transportation aids, repealed a costly and unnecessary mandate to provide paid time off for employees to vote, added protections against the dangers of vaping, and enacted net neutrality principles which prevent internet service providers from limiting access.
As bad as the damage could have been, it’s hard to be too optimistic when schools face the prospect of future budget cuts that would force them to make a number of difficult choices in the coming months, as the state reassesses its financial condition on a rolling basis for the remainder of the year. This uncertainty over finances comes at a time when schools face rising expenses, a growing need to provide additional support services to students and a requirement to absorb a shift from the state in $26 million in special education costs statewide.
With school districts now holding classes remotely and school budget votes and board of education elections postponed to an undetermined date, this is not business as usual. Nor will it be for quite some time. We commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. He has fought hard for the safety and well-being of people of this state. We appreciate his honesty and his optimism for the state and its people. We could all use some optimism right now.