ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — In her budget presentation, Governor Hochul announced a $3.1 billion investment in education. Education experts tell our Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige they’re happy to see the state fully fund foundation aid. What is foundation aid? Brian Fessler, Director of Governmental Relations for NYS School Boards Association explained, “Foundation aid is schools main and largest operating aid category so it allows districts to fund the day-to-day responsibilities of districts and ya know, meet some of the emerging challenges around staff shortages, student mental health, academic gaps, that I think have grown as we’ve come out of the pandemic,” he said.

With the pandemic now over, schools are playing catch up and need money for tutoring and after school programs, but many don’t want money specifically for those programs coming out of the foundation aid. “In a perfect world, we wouldn’t see that restriction, because, as I mentioned, foundation aid, is that general operating aid category, that allows districts to make those investments and expenditures in the areas where there’s the greatest need within their community,” said Fessler.

One thing that was not included in the budget was free school meals for students, which was provided during the pandemic. Assembly member and Chair of the Education Committee, Michael Benedetto said this is an issue, “The federal government used to, during the COVID was pouring money into the states to help us out and rightfully so and then they kind of pulled the money now and left us holding the bag.” Benedetto said this would cost the state around $200 million. “That’s a lot of change,” said Benedetto.

 The Governor is also proposing to lift charter school caps in New York City. Senator Shelley Mayer and Chair of the education committee said this is would limit money going to public schools. “If you completely shrink the amount of money available to traditional public schools, they’re not there as a last resort and also, they should be as good as the charter school or better than the charter school, I mean, we want the schools to succeed, and we’re very committed to investing in them,” said Mayer.