Fulfilling a promise to educators, advocates and families to help New York's neediest students, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan today announced the Assembly's Families First budget allocation of $23.95 billion in School Aid which is an increase of $1.8 billion over the 2014-15 School Year (SY), the largest increase in School Aid since the 2008-09 SY. The proposal also extends mayoral control of the schools in New York City until 2022.
The Assembly proposal reflects an investment of an additional $830 million over the Executive Budget proposal. The Assembly rejects linking school aid increases to the passage of the Education Opportunity Agenda and, therefore, removes all contingent requirements for the 2015-16 SY.
"We must help our children to succeed, not punish them because they may live in poorer communities or deny their schools the funding they need to improve the learning environment," said Heastie. "This significant investment is part of an overall budget proposal that puts families first and makes a commitment to New York's children by strengthening our public education system and investing in all aspects that effect a child's ability to attain independence and academic success."
"It is so important that we continue to make progress on fair and equitable funding for our schools and I am so pleased that the Assembly recommends significant increase of $1.79 billion in school aid," said Nolan. "I am also pleased that the Assembly recommends rejecting language suggested by the Executive that would arbitrarily close schools using only high stake/high stress test scores as a measure of success."
As part of the increase, more than $1 billion is dedicated to Foundation Aid and $456 million in restoration to the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). The increase in Foundation Aid is a significant down payment on monies owed to our neediest districts pursuant to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) court decision. The significant restoration of the GEA keeps the Assembly on track with our commitment to eliminate the GEA.
Building on last year's investment in full-day universal prekindergarten (UPK), the Assembly proposal increases grant funding by $80 million ($40 million in NYC and $40 million outside of NYC). It would also ease the financial burden on school districts outside New York City by allowing them to receive reimbursements for full-day UPK programs in the current year rather than being reimbursed by the state after the programs have been implemented.
When combined with new and existing state prekindergarten programs, the Assembly provides $835 million to support prekindergarten programs run by districts and community-based organizations.
The proposal also updates expense-based aids to include an additional $273 million in reimbursements to school districts, an increase of $90 million over the Executive Budget proposal. It would also make an investment of $171.4 million for Nonpublic School Aid, an increase of $5 million over the Executive Budget proposal for private and parochial schools.
School districts with growing enrollment of students who are English language learners will be eligible for $10 million in new funding. School districts are obligated to support all students that seek to enroll regardless of their immigration status and as a State we owe it to school districts to help finance the education of all children. An additional $10 million would be provided for Career and Technology Education Programs for districts that do not benefit from BOCES programs.
The proposal continues to fund Master Teacher awards for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers, but sets aside 20 percent of the awards for high performing teachers in bilingual education, teachers certified in English as a second language or teachers with dual certification in a content area as well as special education.
The Assembly budget includes critical education funding for programs including: