Governor Unveils Executive Budget; BH-BL’s Foundation Aid Increase Proposed at 0.25%

Governor Unveils Executive Budget; BH-BL’s Foundation Aid Increase Proposed at 0.25%

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state budget proposal that includes a $956 million school aid increase for 2019-20. Under the governor’s proposal, total school aid would be $27.7 billion, which represents a statewide increase of 3.6 percent.

For BH-BL, the governor’s proposal would result in a Foundation Aid increase of only 0.25 percent, or $33,682. Foundation Aid is the largest aid category to support operating expenses.

“In a $68 million budget, an increase of less than $34,000 doesn’t go very far,” explains Assistant Superintendent for School Support Services Christopher Abdoo. “We are very hopeful that the state legislature recognizes this and works to increase our Foundation Aid over what the Governor has proposed.

“In particular, we are concerned that inflation is increasing by more than 2 percent during the next budget year and projected to trend at 2 percent or higher for the foreseeable future. State aid increases that are only a small fraction of inflation will make it difficult for the district to continue to offer its current level of programs and services over time,” Abdoo adds.

The bulk of the increase is in two major categories: $338 million in additional Foundation Aid, which is the primary source of funding for everyday school operations, and $619.7 million to reimburse districts for designated expenses such as transportation, construction and BOCES services.

The state’s Property Tax Cap law would become permanent under the governor’s plan. Adopted in 2011, the law limits growth of local property taxes, including those for local school districts, to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Final tax levy limits for school district are also subject to a number of variables.

The executive budget proposal is the formal beginning of budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature, with a final state budget due on or before April 1.

BH-BL School leaders and the Board of Education have set its 2019-20 budget development plan & calendar, leading up to the statewide school budget vote on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. All meetings ar open to the public.

“Education Equity” formula to address funding disparities between schools
Gov. Cuomo also proposed a new “Education Equity” formula as a way to end funding disparities between individual schools within a district. Last year, the state required new fiscal transparency reporting requirements for 76 school districts representing half of all students in the state. These reporting requirements expand to more than 300 districts this year.

The governor highlighted funding disparities based on these building-level reports and proposed a per-pupil allocation measure to ensure the highest-need students in a district’s highest-need schools receive the funding needed to improve educational outcomes.

Additional funding for existing programs and new initiatives in the executive budget proposal:

  • An additional $15 million to expand universal pre-kindergarten programs across the state, prioritizing high-need districts, homeless students and students with disabilities.
  • Applying $3 million to address teacher shortages and recruit 250 new teachers through the We Teach NY program.
  • An additional $1.5 million to add 100 new teachers in high-poverty schools to the state’s Master Teacher Program.
  • An additional $11.8 million in Early College Higher Opportunity Funds to expand access to college and career options for high school students. This includes:
    • $1.8 million to make exams free for low income students;
    • $1 million to develop advanced program offerings in districts where offerings are limited;
    • $4 million to expand Early College High School; and
    • $5 million for 10 more P-Tech programs.
  • An increase in the minimum Community Schools funding level from $75,000 to $100,000.
  • An investment of $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively, to build districts’ mental health and restorative justice programs through training, professional development and other resources.
  • Give districts the authority to install automated cameras on school bus stop arms and increase the fine for passing a stopped school bus.