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State budget increases school aid despite DC attacks

New York Teacher

In spite of fiscal threats from the federal government, state lawmakers passed a new budget on March 31 that includes nearly $900 million in additional funding for schools statewide. New York City public schools will receive a $334 million share of that increase.

The budget also included language that requires New York City to submit a detailed report to the state on how funding is allocated to each school building for the 2018-19 school year. The city will be required to publish this report online.

The new state budget provides a total of $26.7 billion in education funding statewide, an increase of 3.3 percent. New York City schools will get $10.5 billion in all. The statewide increase in school aid includes $619 million in foundation aid, with $215 million of those funds set aside for community schools.

New York State lawmakers did not retreat from their commitment to public schools in spite of the cap on state and local tax deductions in the federal tax overhaul. Those changes to the federal tax code were designed to make the local taxes that fund public schools less politically palatable to voters.

The UFT sent more than 1,100 members and public school parents to Albany on March 19 to urge state lawmakers to provide additional school aid.

“The governor and the Assembly deserve credit for increasing their investment in education despite a deficit and the very real assaults on New York coming from Washington, D.C.,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

In the new state budget, Teacher Centers will receive $14.3 million and $500,000 will go to the UFT’s Community Learning Schools Initiative, which provides wraparound services in 31 New York City schools to overcome the barriers that poverty creates for many students.

A new $1 million student loan forgiveness program will allow full-time teachers in elementary or secondary schools in hard-to-staff districts or subject shortage areas and who have outstanding student loan debt to receive up to $5,000 per year.

An English language learners pilot program in New York City and the Hudson Valley will receive $500,000 to assist teachers to become dual-certified and provide professional development support.

Mulgrew praised the state senators who supported these education initiatives.

“I’d like to thank the state Senate, specifically Sen. Jeff Klein for his work on achieving the new loan forgiveness program and for supporting community learning schools and Sen. Marisol Alcantara for working to achieve an ELL pilot program,” he said.