Assemblywoman Jenne: State Budget Bringing Additional $10 Million in State Aid to Region
April 11, 2017
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne (r) discusses state aid with Heuvelton Central School Superintendent Susan Todd during a visit to the school on Tuesday.
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne says the fight to ensure school aid continued to be distributed using the foundation aid formula means an additional $10 million will be allocated to North Country schools in the 2017-18 school year. "My top priority in the state Assembly has been fighting to make sure our schools get their fair share of state aid so they have the resources they need to provide North Country students with a quality education," she said. "This is critical so we have the well trained workforce necessary to support efforts to create new jobs in the region," the assemblywoman added. The 2017-18 state budget increases education aid by $1 billion to a total of $25.7 billion, a 4.1 percent increase from last year’s budget. Foundation Aid was increased by $700 million for a total of $17.2 billion. "Most of the school districts in the 116th Assembly District are seeing operating aid increases in the 4.5 to 6 percent range. That's a far cry from the executive budget proposal that would have seen schools in the 116th Assembly District see a $4.5 million decrease in funding for 2017-18 compared to 2016-17. "For the most part, our school districts fared well, but I will continue fighting for additional assistance for districts with high amounts of tax exempt property and those districts that are classified as average needs due to waterfront property values that don't take into account the high levels of poverty," she noted. Assemblywoman Jenne said she and her colleagues in the state Assembly fought during the budget process to protect high needs school districts like those in the North Country. She pointed out the executive budget proposal released in January had included a provision to stall Foundation Aid increases at the current year level. "We were successful in getting that proposal taken out of the budget we adopted this past weekend," Assemblywoman Jenne said. "Foundation Aid plays a critical role in leveling the playing field in an era when the gap in per-pupil spending between low and high needs school districts has risen to $10,000." The budget also includes a $50 million increase in Community Schools Aid for a total of $150 million. This funding allows schools to be converted into community schools that deliver valuable services to both students and families, including offering critical support to at-risk children and strengthening neighborhoods. "We have high levels of poverty in our region, and I recognize there are hurdles outside of the classroom that impact a student's ability to be successful in the classroom and can stand between them and the future they want and deserve,” Assemblywoman Jenne said. “It's hard to focus on your school work when you are hungry or suffering from untreated medical or mental health issues. The community school concept can help connect students and their families with resources that can address those issues," she noted. The budget also provides:
- $817 million in total funding for prekindergarten programs;
- $35 million for after-school programs;
- $5 million to expand half-day and full-day prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds in high-need school districts;
- $2 million for Advance Placement (AP) Test Assistance; and
- $16.7 million for Early College High School programs, which help at-risk students earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree.
- $20 million for Teacher Resource and Computer Training Centers – an increase of $5.7 million;
- $1 million to restore funding for adult literacy education, for a total of $7.3 million; and
- $1.2 million for regional community schools technical centers.