ALBANY, N.Y. – A major portion of the 2014 budget is devoted to education, which has mixed reaction from New York lawmakers.
The spending plan would change Common Core testing by keeping test results off the transcripts of third through eighth graders until 2018. Charter schools would also be getting a boost this year.
The state will spend an additional $250 per student, and that amount will increase the following two years. It also calls for voters this November to decide on a $2 billion bond resolution which would fund the purchase of computers, and bring more science and technology programs to classrooms.
Lawmakers are securing more state aid for public schools than Governor Cuomo originally called for. Also, there are concerns over where hundreds of millions of dollars to fund full-day pre-k is going.
In Cuomo's budget proposal, he called for a little over $600 million for the state to spend on public education. However, the state legislature recommended and secured more than $500 million more, bringing the total to approximately $1.1 billion.
"That's terrific and school districts are very pleased that there's been increases in the last several days but at the same token, they're not receiving the same amount of money they did in the 2008 period," said Senator Neil Breslin (D) Delmar.
Also, for the fourth consecutive year, the budget limits school districts to a two percent tax cap ceiling. If districts want to pierce the cap, they would need a 60-percent super majority vote.
"The governor wants to force this freeze and now he wants us to actually consolidate down and cut the costs. I think that's gonna be a hard to do," explained Tim Kramer, Executive Director, NYSSBA.
The state is also looking to put aside $340 million for universal pre-k with $300 million going solely to New York City.
"The fact is that if the governor had gone with Mayor De Blasio's original plan, which was to tax millionaires to pay for New York City's portion, then there's another $340 million in state dollars that would've been available for pre-k or school aid statewide," said Billy Easton, Executive Director, AQE.
Albany City School District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard says she is extremely grateful and thankful for the fact this will be the first year in the last six, that the district won't face catastrophic cuts and reductions.
"It allows us to invest in our staff and students. It allows us to continue to invest in our programs. And for that, I'm very happy," she said.
Albany city schools are set to receive an 11 percent increase in state funding this year, which the superintendent says should help the district stay within its tax cap, but also believes Albany won't receive the same amount of funding next year.
"We know in the long run, we have additional work we have to do but right now, it bodes well for the city of Albany," she said.
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