State regents ask for $2.1B more in school aid

State regents ask for $2.1B more in school aid
The Board of Regents requested a $1.66 million increase in foundation aid. (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

New York’s Board of Regents has requested a $2.1 billion increase in school aid for the coming academic year, according to the state’s Education Department.

Most of that funding would be devoted to foundation aid, which is intended to prioritize higher-need districts.

“The Board of Regents and I believe that all children should have access to a high-quality education regardless of their race, where they live or where they go to school,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa.

Last year, the state increased school aid by about $1 billion after the regents requested $1.6 billion. That provided $26.7 billion in aid for this school year, a state record, according to New York’s budget division.

Beyond a $1.66 billion increase in foundation aid, this year’s proposal includes $410 million more for reimbursement-based aid, which supports efforts such as building and transportation, as well as $25 million more for career and technical programs and $26 million more for expanding universal pre-kindergarten.

The pre-kindergarten funding is over five times more than what the board requested last year.

The state is continuing to phase in a new foundation aid formula, and the Board of Regents is calling for it to be fully administered by the 2021-22 academic year.

Its proposal, which it released last week, “would put the state on a committed path” to fully phasing it in, the Education Department said in a news release. 

“Equity remains one of the pillars of the Board of Regents priorities,” said Regent Nan Eileen Mead, co-chair of the state aid subcommittee. “I am confident that the State Aid proposal announced today will benefit the districts with the most need and open doors to otherwise unavailable opportunities to give all young New Yorkers a chance to thrive.”

The $2.1 billion Regents proposal is just slightly lower than a $2.2 billion increase that the New York State Educational Conference Board called for in a report five days earlier.

The conference board cited a 15 percent increase in New York students qualifying for free and reduced lunch between the 2006-07 and 2016-17 school years as well as an 18 percent increase in English language learners.

“Absent the necessary resources, school leaders will increasingly have diminished ability to meet demonstrated needs while also continuing proven programs,” the report says. “Enacting the recommendations in this paper would bridge the gap between current levels of funding and the programs and services that New York’s students need to be prepared for the future.”

The educational conference board includes teachers unions and individuals who have worked in New York education or health care.

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