With the April 1 state budget deadline drawing near and as negotiations draw to a close, the New York State School Boards Association today stressed the importance of three budget items that local school board members believe are critically important for students in New York’s public schools.
"While lawmakers complete work on the state budget in Albany, school districts around the state are developing their own budgets. We cannot overstate the importance of sufficient and predictable state aid – and foundation aid in particular – to schools and taxpayers," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
The three budget items stressed by school boards include:
- Commit to a significant increase in foundation aid and a plan to fully phase-in the foundation aid formula. Adequately funding foundation aid for 2019 while committing to a full phase in of foundation aid, along with overdue updates to the formula, would help school districts receive the state aid they need without passing those costs onto taxpayers. This will help school districts cope with escalating health insurance costs and rapid growth in student needs – from educational supports for English language learners, to initiatives that help students living in poverty, to services for special education students.
- Reject efforts to make the tax cap permanent and enact common-sense adjustments to the cap. Before considering any extension of the tax cap, lawmakers must make basic reforms that would enable it to function more fairly. New York needs to: eliminate negative caps, make the tax cap "growth factor" a minimum of two percent (as advertised), include BOCES capital costs in the district capital exclusion, and ensure that municipal PILOT agreements do not adversely affect school districts. Under the existing tax cap law, a school district can have a negative cap. That means a school board can propose a budget that cuts the tax levy and still need 60% supermajority approval for passage.
- Reject the governor’s school-based funding redistribution plan for foundation aid. This proposal takes decision-making out of the hands of locally elected school board members, who are accountable to their communities. State officials in Albany cannot distribute funds to thousands of individual school buildings more fairly and effectively than locally selected boards of education. Both houses rightly rejected this initiative in their budget proposals.