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New York State PTA

One Wembley Court
Albany, NY 12205
Phone: 518.452.8808
Toll Free: 1.877.569.7782
Fax: 518.452.8105

Email: pta.office@nyspta.org

Advocacy

Advocacy Newsbriefs – January 2016

The Governor’s State of the State/Budget Message



While the governor’s education message in this week’s State of the State message was far less contentious than in past years, the fiscal proposals were a disappointment. Here is an outline of increases the Governor proposes for state aid to schools.

  • Basic Foundation Aid: $266 million of $4.3 billion currently owed to schools.
  • Gap Elimination Aid: $189 million of $434 million currently owed. The remainder is proposed to be eliminated next year.
  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred for building, transportation, BOCES and some special ed programs: $408 million.
  • Conversion of struggling and some high needs schools to community schools: $100 million.
  • Extending prekindergarten programs to three year olds: $22 million.
  • Other grant programs: $6 million.
  • Total 2016-17 proposed state aid increase: $991 million.
  • Total increase proposed for 2017-18: $1.2 billion.

In contrast, the NYS Board of Regents has recommended an increase of $2.4 billion and the Educational Conference Board, representing the larger educational associations including NYS PTA, has recommended an increase of $2.2 billion.

What is left unsaid? The Governor would leave in place 2015 legislation that changed the elements of educator evaluation plans. Instead he supports the recommendations of his Common Core Task Force that would provide flexibility in using student test results on federally mandated tests to evaluate teachers and principals for a period of four years, leaving many of the details for the Board of Regents to evaluate. Likewise, he would leave new requirements that would subject struggling schools to independent “receivership”.

Also not specifically addressed are proposals by the NYS Board of Regents to fund family and community engagement initiatives or added support for the NYS Education Department to provide support and oversight for community school conversions, APPR implementation or family engagement efforts.

Legislative Challenge: The legislature will face several challenges, the most significant being:

  1. Striking a balance between restoring GEA reductions and foundation aid increases. When 89% of unpaid foundation aid is owed to high need schools and only 77% of GEA restoration is owed to non high need schools, the legislature will need to strike some form of balance that meets Senate needs to restore all GEA cuts and Assembly needs to fund high need schools at an acceptable level.
  2. Determining the acceptability for continuing APPR and school receivership plans adopted in 2015 that have resulted in significant outcry from educators, parents and communities that may be subjected to receivership.
  3. Addressing a local property tax cap that effectively freezes property taxes at 2015 levels. Will legislators respond with aid increases that seek to avoid program cuts, modify the tax cap to permit greater increases in local revenue or do neither?

We will continue to assess implications of the governor's Executive proposal and potential legislative response, and provide a more detailed look at what might be expected of the legislative session within the next several weeks.