Ed groups call for $2.2B state aid increase for 2016-17
New York has a long and proud tradition of public school excellence, and has been a leader in the more recent movement to higher standards. However, this effort has yet to gain the necessary traction: Our state began this ambitious improvement process during a time of reduced school funding, drastic program cuts, a complex and potentially destabilizing tax cap, and abrupt changes in regulations, and the cost pressures that go with them. The world has changed, and schools are eager to rise to the challenge. Yet, they need a responsive and reliable state partner that recognizes the realities they face and makes the commitment needed to address them and move forward.
The New York State Educational Conference Board – comprised of seven leading educational organizations representing parents, classroom teachers, school-related professionals, school business officials, building administrators (SAANYS), superintendents, and school boards – is issuing this set of comprehensive school finance recommendations that provide a roadmap for how the state can be this partner. If enacted, these recommendations would help our schools and our state get back on track in the effort to help all students reach higher standards and success in college and careers. There are two components to the recommended $2.2 billion state aid increase: $1.7 billion needed to continue current school services and $500 million in targeted funding to advance priority initiatives that have a broad base of support among state leaders, schools, businesses and citizens. The increase would also help schools deal with an unprecedented challenge in 2016-17, the prospect that they will face a zero percent limit on the increase in local revenue due to the way the state’s tax cap is constructed.
1. Provide an increase of $2.2 billion in state aid for 2016-17 to continue current school services, meet critical needs and strengthen improvement initiatives;
2. End the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) that reduces aid to school districts;
3. Establish – and commit to – a plan to fully fund the Foundation Aid formula;
4. Fix the Property Tax Cap law for schools to address its most damaging shortcomings, especially the use of the Consumer Price Index;
5. Provide state aid runs and distribution formulas with the Executive Budget Proposal, and disconnect specific policy initiatives from eligibility for general purpose aid; and
6. Pay schools for state reimbursements they are owed for approved prior year aid claims. The state should meet this outstanding obligation separate from 2016-17 school aid, and has settlement funds available for this one-time expense.