Early signs point to a promising year for New York State public school funding

The funding outlook for the 2022-2023 school year already looks promising, with Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent confirmation of a $ 21.3 billion foundation assistance program covering public schools on Long Island and beyond. the state.

The announced expansion of the state’s largest school aid program was hailed as “a great achievement” on Monday at a meeting of the state’s Board of Regents, which set much of education policy of State. The regents announced the resumption of their own separate efforts to revamp high school graduation requirements, after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Confirmation of the extra aid dollars came late last week, when Hochul described the resolution of a long-standing legal dispute between the state and a New York City group seeking more dollars for the schools there. Under the deal, the state will fully fund over three years a “foundation” formula that will bring the greatest amount of money to school systems with large numbers of impoverished students, both in New York City and in New York. statewide.

“Every New Yorker deserves a quality education to be successful in our state, and public schools are a critical part of this opportunity for the upward mobility of our children,” the governor said in announcing the funding settlement.

Hochul’s statement confirmed a pledge, initially approved by state lawmakers in April, that sets foundation aid at $ 19.8 billion for the current year 2021-2022. The plan calls for increasing the total amount to $ 21.3 billion for 2022-2023 and to $ 23.2 billion for 2023-24.

The central idea behind this historic expansion of aid is that it would provide virtually any district – rich, poor, or middle class – with enough money to provide students with the “solid basic” education required by the constitution. the state. Schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties received a combined 13% state aid increase this year, or more than $ 400 million.

The additional state money is on top of the millions of dollars pledged in federal aid. Much of that money is earmarked for specific priorities, such as upgrading school ventilation systems and tutoring students to make up for lost teaching time during the pandemic.

Another benefit of the phased introduction of cash promised by the state is that it largely alleviates the anxiety of local schools about how much money they can expect in the coming year. Normally, schools would have to wait until January, when a governor typically proposes a budget, and then again until April, when state lawmakers agree on the final numbers.

“In general, this is good news,” said Lorraine Deller, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association. “It is worth celebrating because it recognizes the need for the state to fulfill its obligations to its public schools.”

Deller added, however, that the island’s legislative delegation in Albany was still struggling to ensure that this region received its fair share of future aid. The basic formula was originally designed largely with New York City and other urban areas in mind, local analysts noted.

Meanwhile, the Regents announced their own additional funding – a $ 500,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to help revise the state’s degree requirements. Specifically, the money is to be used in pilot projects at selected schools that offer various pathways to degrees, with planning to start later this school year.

“Too many New York students – especially our most vulnerable – are leaving high school without a diploma,” said state education commissioner Betty Rosa, explaining one of the main reasons for the shift to revisions. This would imply less emphasis on examinations for state regents, Rosa said.

The regents also released a revised timeline to make specific changes to the graduation rules. A Blue Ribbon Advisory Commission is to be established next fall and make recommendations in winter or spring 2024.

Veteran board member Roger Tilles, who represents the island, suggested accelerating the schedule to 2023 on the grounds that it could help students whose education has been disrupted by the pandemic.

“I think it’s really great that we are moving forward,” Tilles said at Monday’s meeting. “There are too many kids just going with the motions now.”

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