• 2015-16 Budget

    Jan. 23, 2015school budget logo

    Update: No aid increase for next two years unless Legislature approves Cuomo’s proposal

    According to language in Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget bill, if the legislature does not enact the education reforms the governor outlined in his budget address on Wednesday, Jan. 21, districts will not receive any aid greater than their 2014-15 amount for each of the next two years. 

    Complicating matters for districts, the Division of Budget announced that it would not be releasing school aid runs until the Legislature passes the governor’s education reform agenda. The aid runs are usually released within hours of the governor’s budget presentation.

    The reforms Mr. Cuomo proposed include an overhaul of the existing teacher evaluation law, more stringent tenure requirements, funding to expand preschool programs, lifting the cap on charter schools, and a new turnaround process for the state’s lowest performing schools.

    In all, the $1.1 billion school aid increase includes just more than $1 billion in new school aid, $25 million for expanded preschool programs, and $25 million for other education reforms.

    The Executive Budget Proposal now heads to the state legislature for consideration. A final state budget is expected by April 1, 2015.

    Copyright 2015, Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio; All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.


    Jan. 23, 2015

    Governor calls for $1.1 billion school aid increase and education reforms, with no mention of the GEA

    [This story was updated on Jan. 23 to reflect the current interpretation of the governor’s budget bill regarding aid increases.]

    Under the Executive Budget Proposal outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 21, state funding for schools would increase by $1.1 billion next year – provided state lawmakers go along with a series of education reforms that he described as “ambitious” in his combined budget address and State of the State message.

    The reforms Mr. Cuomo proposed include an overhaul of the existing teacher evaluation law, more stringent tenure requirements, funding to expand preschool programs, lifting the cap on charter schools, and a new turnaround process for the state’s lowest performing schools.

    An additional $1.1 billion in state aid next year would represent a 4.8 percent increase over the current year. 

    According to language in the Governor’s proposed budget bill, if the Legislature does not enact the education reforms he outlined, districts will not see an increase in state aid next year or the year after.

    The governor also did not address the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, which is the mechanism through which the state has diverted promised school funding over the last five years to meet other budget priorities. In that time, schools have lost more than $9.52 billion cumulatively to the GEA, and they are still owed $1.04 billion.

    The overall proposed increase in aid falls short of the $2 billion or more that the New York State Board of Regents and leading education groups have called for to meet the needs of students next year.

    “It is unfortunate that the governor’s proposal is holding the school budget process hostage while seeking to further change an educational system that’s still reeling from changes hastily implemented in the recent past,” Arkport Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “It is also discouraging to see the governor fail to acknowledge our schools’ greatest needs: help with students in poverty and those in need for mental health services.

    “I also take exception to the governor’s message that our schools are failing,” Mr. Niles continued. “While I acknowledge there are system weaknesses and pockets where students are not performing well, there are also schools, like Arkport Central, that are doing great things for kids and doing well at preparing all students for the future.” 

    The state’s budget office has not yet released the 2015-16 school aid “runs,” which list how much additional money each of the state’s nearly 700 school districts would get under the governor’s budget proposal. After the governor’s speech, Budget Director Bob Megna told reporters the runs, typically released in tandem with the executive budget, would not be distributed until after the Legislature passes a state budget.

    The governor also is proposing to make permanent the state’s property tax levy cap, which is set to expire after this current year, as well as a new “circuit breaker” tax reduction program. This would reduce property taxes for some homeowners and renters based on income and the amount of their tax bills.

    If the Legislature does not enact the reforms Mr. Cuomo outlined, he said the increase in school aid next year would drop to $377 million.

    The series of education reforms Mr. Cuomo called for included changes to how districts evaluate teachers and principals. Under the existing process, evaluation scores consist of essentially three components: classroom observations, growth on state test scores and locally selected learning targets, and additional measures of student achievement. Scores on these components result in a rating of highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.

    In his speech, the governor outlined a plan that would change the evaluation process so that 50 percent of scores are based on state exams and the other 50 percent on observations. While many other details of this plan are still unknown, Gov. Cuomo did say the elements of the scoring system for teacher observations would be set in state law, rather than locally negotiated as they are now.

    Mr. Cuomo also said teachers would have to be rated highly effective or effective in both areas to receive an overall rating of highly effective or effective, and that this process would eliminate much of the local testing taking place in school districts under the existing evaluation process.

    Under Mr. Cuomo’s plan, a teacher who has two consecutive “ineffective” ratings would be removed from his or her teaching position.

    The budget proposal includes funding to continue rewarding teachers with annual stipends who are deemed highly effective and who mentor their peers. The governor would also create a teacher-in-residency program akin to what is provided for doctors and offer free tuition to top SUNY/CUNY graduates who commit to teaching in New York schools for five years.

    The governor's proposal also continues to provide grants for the "P-Tech" Pathways in Technology and Early College High School program, which connects high school to two years of college in the STEM fields.

    Mr. Cuomo outlined a plan to address what he called “failing schools” that would allow a nonprofit, turnaround expert or another district to take over a school after three years of poor results. This entity would be charged with overhauling the curriculum, terminating underperforming staff and recruiting high-performing educators. These schools would be given priority in a variety of state grant programs, and the students would be given priority in charter school lotteries.

    The governor proposed combining the charter school caps for New York City and the rest of the state into one statewide cap and increasing it by 100 new charter schools, for a total cap of 560. Under the existing caps, there are 24 slots left for new charter schools in New York City and 159 slots available statewide. The governor also proposed legislation to ensure charter schools serve “their fair share” of high-needs populations in relation to public schools, including English language learners, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities.

    Mr. Cuomo also proposed an additional $365 million in spending for universal prekindergarten, in line with the plan approved last year to phase in $1.5 billion over five years to expand prekindergarten access statewide. He also called for $25 million for new preschool programs for 3-year-olds in the state’s highest-need school districts.

    In all, the $1.1 billion school aid increase includes just more than $1 billion in new school aid, $25 million for the preschool initiative, and $25 million for other education reforms.

    The Executive Budget Proposal now heads to the state legislature for consideration. A final state budget is expected by April 1, 2015.

    Copyright 2014, Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio; All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.



    Nov. 12, 2014

    The Board of Education on Nov. 12, 2014, adopted the 2015-16 Budget Development Calendar
     


    2014-15 Budget

    May 20, 2014
     

    Budget details box