Education Law Center joined advocacy and professional organizations from New York State to voice serious concerns with proposals in Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget that would change the way the state’s public schools are funded.
Last year, New York State finally phased in full funding of the 2007 Foundation Aid Formula that determines public school funding. But now Governor Hochul has proposed changes to the Formula that will result in a decrease of $419 million in Foundation Aid.
The Governor proposes to stop using the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) for determining formula increases (currently 3.8 percent) and instead use a 10-year rolling average of 2.4 percent. She also proposes changes to “save harmless” that will negatively affect 337 school districts, half of which are high needs. “Save harmless” shields districts from funding cuts owing to drops in enrollment.
In the 17 years since the Foundation Aid Formula was enacted, there have been many developments in the field of school finance that improve the accuracy of assessing the cost of education and the accuracy of assessing student need. Using these tools to update the Formula is imperative in order to keep pace with the current cost of education, so that every student in New York State is afforded the opportunity for a “sound basic education” under the State Constitution.
In fact, the New York State Board of Regents requested $1 million to begin the process of updating and improving the Foundation Aid Formula. Not only does Governor Hochul’s executive budget not include the Regents’ request, it actually cuts school aid. The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars through the changes Governor Hochul proposes will mean schools must cut vital programs, staff and services.
According to the joint statement:
This decision not only breaks a promise made to our children and educators but also jeopardizes the future of our communities by undermining the foundation of a strong and equitable education system. This is not just a budgetary issue; it is a question of our priorities and values as a state.
The organizations signing the statement urge the Legislature to “stand up for our students and schools by doing everything you can to properly fund our public schools.”
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications