Governor Cuomo outlines 2021-22 school aid plan, boosted by federal aidOn Jan. 19, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a fiscal year 2022 state budget that includes a more than $2 billion increase in funding for schools next year that is dependent on federal aid.
School aid for next year will ultimately be shaped by the prospects of additional federal funding and Gov. Cuomo’s budget negotiations with the state Legislature ahead of the April 1 deadline for a new state budget. The release of the Governor’s budget is the starting point for that process.
Gov. Cuomo’s proposal consolidates several current categories of state aid that provide reimbursement to districts for specific services (see below) and introduces the “Local District Funding Adjustment” – a cut in state aid that is fully offset by new, one-time federal funds.
With the Governor’s spending plan, the Division of Budget released the “School Aid Runs,” a breakdown of how much funding each district might expect to receive based on Cuomo’s proposal.
Total School Funding: Federal and State AidAlthough federal aid makes up a significantly smaller portion of school funding in New York than state aid and local taxes, federal dollars play a significant role in Gov. Cuomo’s budget plan for next year.
The Governor’s budget proposal was based on New York receiving an additional $6 billion from Washington in a future relief package from Congress and the Biden administration. However, Gov. Cuomo said that he believes that New York is entitled to $15 billion in additional federal support and he has requested that amount.
The Governor said that if the full amount he is seeking comes through, schools may see additional funding beyond what outlined last week.
The Governor has proposed freezing the level of Foundation Aid, the largest state school aid category, for a second year in a row. Districts could face the potential for significant budget gaps in future years if federal aid expires and the state does not have new funding to replace it with.
Proposal to Consolidate Expense-Based Reimbursements for SchoolsGov. Cuomo is also proposing to consolidate current categories of school aid into a block grant known as “Services Aid” and to eliminate future growth in these aids. The 11 categories, known as expense-based aids, provide schools with reimbursements in specific areas such as BOCES services and student transportation.
Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to restructure the way this aid is distributed includes a proposed decrease of approximately $400 million compared to the current levels of aid in the 11 categories.
Similar proposals have not been approved in the past, with education advocates and others arguing that expense-based aids are critical to sustaining programs that meet a wide range of student needs every day.
Additional Proposals Related to Education in the Governor’s BudgetOther proposals related to education in the Governor’s plan include:
- Allowing schools to receive transportation aid for expenses incurred last spring for delivering meals and instructional materials to students during the school shutdown.
- Continued funding for initiatives such as prekindergarten, after-school programs, early college high schools, P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools), community schools and the Smart Schools Bond Act.
- Elimination of a variety of teacher training and support programs to focus available funding on direct service for students, according to the Division of Budget.
- Elimination of $18.7 million in school district aid claims from prior years. This means schools would not receive money previously owed to them.
- Actions designed to streamline the administration of the STAR program, as well as a measure that would require Basic STAR exemption recipients who become eligible for Enhanced STAR to enroll in the Enhanced STAR tax credit (instead of the exemption program).