Funding levels could change based on future federal actions
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined his proposed state budget for 2021-22.
State funding largely dependent on federal funding
Facing a looming state deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor proposes to cut school state aid by $1.35 billion, through what he is calling a “Local District Funding Adjustment.” These cuts would be offset by the $3.85 billion in federal funding allocated to schools through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law in December 2020.
The Governor’s budget proposal was based on New York receiving an additional $6 billion from Washington in a future relief package from Congress and the Biden administration (the Governor has requested a total of $15 billion in federal support). Driven by this federal aid, overall school funding in the Governor’s plan would increase by 7.1%.
Under the proposal, Goshen is slated to receive a 1.4% increase in state funding for next year.
“Although we certainly appreciate any increase in aid, contractual obligations in addition to unexpected pandemic-related costs are driving up the budget for next year,” said Louise M. Lynch, assistant superintendent for business. “Our goal is to ensure the best educational program for our students while staying within our tax levy limit.”
Schools face uncertainty with future state aid
The Governor proposed freezing the level of Foundation Aid, the largest state school aid category, for a second year in a row. While federal funding is helping to offset the impact of this and other measures in Gov. Cuomo’s budget for now, districts could face the potential for significant budget gaps in future years if federal aid expires and the state does not have new funding to replace it with.
Gov. Cuomo is also proposing to consolidate current categories of school aid into a block grant known as “Services Aid” and to eliminate future growth in these aids. The 11 categories, known as expense-based aids, provide schools with reimbursements in specific areas such as BOCES services and student transportation. Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to restructure the way this aid is distributed includes a proposed decrease of approximately $400 million.
Similar proposals have not been approved in the past, with education advocates and others arguing that expense-based aids are critical to sustaining programs that meet a wide range of student needs every day.
Additional proposals related to education
Other proposals related to education in the Governor’s plan include:
- Allowing schools to receive transportation aid for expenses incurred last spring for delivering meals and instructional materials to students during the school shutdown.
- Continued funding for initiatives such as prekindergarten, after-school programs, early college high schools, P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools), community schools and the Smart Schools Bond Act.
- Elimination of a variety of teacher training and support programs to focus available funding on direct service for students, according to the Division of Budget.
- Elimination of $18.7 million in school district aid claims from prior years. This means schools would not receive money previously owed to them.
- Actions designed to streamline the administration of the STAR program, as well as a measure that would require Basic STAR exemption recipients who become eligible for Enhanced STAR to enroll in the Enhanced STAR tax credit (instead of the exemption program).