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Regents Asks For $2B Hike In Aid

The state Board of Regents is calling for a $2 billion increase in state education aid in the 2020-21 state budget.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will release his 2020-21 executive budget in January. The state Division of Budget recently released its mid-year budget report and pegged the state’s budget shortfall at $6.1 billion, nearly $4 billion of which is caused by the state’s Medicaid program running over budgeted levels. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, was quoted recently in the New York Post saying spending cuts aren’t likely because legislators would prefer to raise revenues.

Typically, even in years when the state spends more money, the governor’s office releases a budget proposal with far less than the Board of Regents calls for, followed by state legislators adding a marginal amount to the governor’s proposal.

The Board of Regents began two days of meetings Monday. One of the first items on the agenda was the Regents’ budget proposal. The proposal calls for a $2 billion increase in Foundation Aid for the 2020-21 school year to support a minimum 1% Foundation Aid increase for all districts, 2,000 more 4-year-old pre-kindergarten spots statewide, which would increase the number of 4-year-olds receiving state-funded pre-kindergarten programs to nearly 70%.

A $6 million program pay for pilot programs targeting half- and full-day 10-month and summer inclusion pre-kindergarten programs for 3-and 4-year-olds.

The state investment would be layered with existing pre-kindergarten and preschool special education funding under a single reimbursement structure for preschool inclusion. The pilot funding would support classrooms comprised of both preschool students with and without disabilities under consolidated funding structure so the classrooms could be treated as one program serving all students.

Additionally, the Regents are asking for $82 million in additional expense-based aid for transportation and BOCES aid while spending less on building aid, special education and other reimburseable programs.

“The Board of Regents and I continue to make it our mission to ensure equity and excellence in education for all children, and our priorities and proposals build upon this work to further these critical efforts,” said Betty A. Rosa, Board of Regents chancellor. “These funds would provide school districts with the resources they need while laying the foundation to best support our youngest children, bolstering educator diversity and recruitment and providing tools to make sure that our schools are positive and culturally-responsive learning environments.”

The Regents are also proposing a three-year phase-in schedule to bring Foundation Aid up to roughly $23.1 billion by 2022-23. According to a presentation during Monday’s meeting, 40% of the foundation aid increase would come in 2020-21 with 30% each of the next two years.

Regents are also asking for $1.2 million from the state to review the Foundation Aid formula, including revising the Successful Schools methodology, update the regional cost index and measure student need and district financial capacity. The board is also requesting $550,000 for financial technical assistance to schools to help schools better use their resources and avoid possible financial problems.

“The board proposal puts forth a thoughtful and comprehensive agenda that will increase equity among all students and continue the Department’s work toward ensuring that every student in New York receives the best education possible,” said Shannon Tahoe, acting state education commissioner. “These strategic investments in our most valuable resources–our children–would provide real benefits for students, teachers, school districts and communities statewide. We look forward to working with the legislature and the executive to strengthen and support our schools.”

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