ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)— The Board of Regents met Monday laying out it’s priorities for the year ahead— seeking $3.4 billion in state aid to focus on expanding access to services, programs, and school meals. Today, education professionals met in Albany to speak before the Assembly Standing Committee on Education about a loss of learning during the pandemic.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto is on the committee. When asked how much for a learning loss he thinks there is, Benedetto said, “Well, that’s always the question and how to measure the question—- there’s one big question mark on that. What everyone agrees on is that there was a learning loss and it’s a learning loss that is not going to be made up anytime soon.”

Among those testifying was Robert Lowry of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. In addition to calling for foundation aid to be fully funded in the next state budget, he said there’s a need for targeted funding to help with mental health services.

“Federal money provided in response to the pandemic, that’s due to go away during the 2024/2025 school year,” explained Lowry. “And increases in foundation aid, those will drop back down once the formula is fully funded, but we don’t see student mental health issues dramatically improving in the near term. We think there’s a need for special assistance for that purpose. “

A big issue plaguing schools is staffing problems. During the hearing, ideas where discussed on how to get more people to want to become teachers.

“There may be a place for scholarships to draw more people into the profession.” said Lowry. “Loan forgiveness, where we say if you agree to work in a region or a type a district where there is a particular problem we will arrange to help you pay off some of your loans.”

Benedetto said lawmakers will discuss what they heard in the meeting, including a discussion about fully funding foundation aid in the state budget.

“We fully think we are going to do that this year,” said Benedetto.