The New York State Board of Regents is proposing a $1.6 billion increase in funding for schools, and calls to continue to phase in Foundation Aid. The Regents issued its state aid and legislative priorities for 2018 during its meeting in Albany Monday.
“Our proposal this year is $1.6 bill increase. This is approximately a 6.3 increase," declared MaryEllen Elia, State Education Commissioner.
Elia said the request for 2018 does take into account the state's fiscal realities, but still works to reach the state's neediest students and provide quality pre-K.
"The reality that the state is facing in terms of the budget and finances that are available this year," stated Elia. "But the reality is we have 'cost of living increase' that our districts have to face and we have students across the state who are most at need students."
The funding proposals include a $25-million request to expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) and $20-million for expansion of Universal Pre-K. The Board's funding proposals would implement recommendations from the Regents Early Childhood Workgroup’s Blue Ribbon Committee.
Commissioner Elia said they are focused on four key areas; Equity, Early Learning, ESSA and Efficiency.
"Whether they be "L" students, whether they're very young children or whether they are students who are existing, so it's a balance, and this is the beginning of the process," remarked Elia.
"Over the past year, the Board and Department have taken significant steps to work toward increasing equity for all students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “These efforts included a tremendous amount of work from developing our ESSA plan and putting forth our Next Generation Learning Standards to creating the Board of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup’s Blue Ribbon Committee and the Integration, Equity and Diversity Workgroup. Our priorities and proposals build upon this work and further our efforts to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education. These funds would provide school districts with the resources they need while laying the foundation to best support our youngest children, students in our struggling schools and English language learners while also improving outcomes for all students.”
Here is a summary of the budget ask:
State Aid Proposal
The Regents propose $1.6 billion in additional investments in education, with $1.25 billion in aid formula increases, $314 million in statutory reimbursement-based aid increases, $25 million for CTE program expansion and $20 million for UPK program expansion. The $1.6 billion in formula aid represents a 6.3-percent increase in aid. The Regents proposal provides much-needed resources for school districts to support operational expenses and educational programs while allowing for expansions in specified priority areas. As such, the proposal strikes a balance between acknowledging the State’s fiscal condition and seeking the funding necessary to meet the needs of school districts.
Continues the Phase In of Foundation Aid: The Regents State Aid Proposal continues its commitment to advocate for the full phase in of the formula by providing a $1.25 billion increase, achieved through a combination of three targeted increases:
· A uniform percentage phase-in increase for all districts with a remaining phase-in;
· A minimum increase for all districts, which provides for additional local spending increases, progressively distributed, ranging up to three percent, ensuring that all districts—even those with completed formula phase-ins —are able to respond to rising fixed costs; and
· A new $85 million English language learner setaside, which accelerates additional Foundation Aid to districts with ELL-driven formula aid.
Statutory Reimbursement-Based Aid: Consistent with existing law and the most recent claims submitted by school districts to the Department, the Regents State Aid Proposal also includes $314 million in increases for reimbursement-based aid formulas for the 2018-2019 school year, such as Building Aid ($175 million), Transportation Aid ($98 million), BOCES Aid ($17 million), Public and Private Excess Cost Aid for special education services ($11 million), and other minor increases ($13 million).
Career & Technical Program Expansions: Recent years have shown reduced participation in career and technical education (CTE) programming, even as the Board has worked to incorporate success in the most rigorous programs into the State’s graduation pathways. In just six years New York state will face a deficit of 350,000 workers for mid-level skill jobs, those requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. High quality CTE programs are a boon to the state’s economy – as they prepare the workforce of the future with the skills employees need on the first day of work. The Regent’s State Aid Proposal provides for an additional $25 million in CTE funding to support programs at the Big 5 City school districts and BOCES.
Universal Pre-K Expansion: In the 2017-2018 Enacted Budget, the Legislature and Governor included the Regent’s proposal to implement a plan to consolidate the existing multiple prekindergarten programs, coupled with an additional investment of $5 million. The Board has convened an Early Childhood Workgroup’s Blue Ribbon Committee that is developing a robust series of recommendations to improve the quality and expand the opportunity of all early care and education programs. As a first step toward those recommendations, the BRC developed a State Aid request to ensure all children learn in a culturally, linguistically and developmentally appropriate manner so they flourish in preschool, enter the school age program on a success trajectory, and are academically proficient in third grade.
This State Aid Proposal continues to build on the State’s commitment by investing an additional $20 million in UPK programs. Currently, a total of $817 million is provided statewide to serve over 120,000 prekindergarten pupils. The addition of $20 million will help grow the number of young leaners receiving this vital programming. In addition to investing additional funds for the UPK program, the Board also proposes that a study be conducted into the ability for and cost to districts of providing transportation services for students in prekindergarten programs.
Budget and Legislative Priority Highlights
Ensure Equitable Access to High Quality Schools and Programs for All Students: The Regents and the Department are committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of background, zip code, first language or disability, have equitable opportunities to prepare for college, careers and civic engagement. This has most recently been demonstrated through My Brother’s Keeper and the creation of the NYS Board of Regents Research Workgroup on Integration, Equity and Diversity and is a clear theme in the State’s ESSA plan as well. The issue of equity encompasses both the equitable distribution of resources as well as outcomes. The Board proposal puts forth several initiatives to further increase equity among all students including to:
- Increase opportunities for DREAMers by eliminating provisions in state law that require students to be a U.S. citizen or permanent lawful resident to receive general awards, including TAP, academic performance awards, scholarships or other financial assistance;
- Support and enhance Higher Education Opportunity Programs ($10M);
- Enhance supports and services for postsecondary success of students with disabilities ($15M);
- Increase access to a highly qualified diverse teaching workforce ($500K);
- Increase funding for State Aid for Library Construction ($6M);
- Expand access to education programs through cultural institutions ($5M);
- Establish a Bridge to College & Careers Pilot Program ($3M); and
- Increase support for independent living services for people with disabilities ($5M).
Increase Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education Programs: The Board convened an Board of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup’s Blue Ribbon Committee, made up of researchers, practitioners, policy makers, elected officials, teachers, school administrators and parents to develop a clear, coherent and comprehensive strategy to ensure that all of New York State’s children have the fairness of an even start and access to services that are developmentally appropriate and responsive to culture, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship status and socioeconomic status. In addition to a $20 million increase for UPK, the BRC recommends $17 million in additional resources to support increased access to high-quality early care and education programs. The funding would support initiatives to:
· Conduct a cost study of a high-quality prekindergarten program for all 4-year-old children with appropriate weightings for areas of economic disadvantage, emergent multilingual learners and students with disabilities ($300,000);
· Establish a pilot program that targets funding for half-day and full-day inclusion prekindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year olds ($6M);
· Establish Early Learning Regional Technical Assistance Centers to provide support to early care and educational settings including mental health consultation, training in social/emotional learning and development, and professional development on implementing high-quality early childhood education ($2M);
· Provide family and community engagement coordinators in identified school communities to create program models that weave family and community influence into all levels of the educational system ($2M);
· Expand the availability of QUALITYstarsNY throughout the State ($3M);
· Adopt and implement a competency-based approach in pre-service teacher preparation programs and in-service professional development for new and current educators and leaders to ensure that all teachers are prepared to teach all students, especially as the student population continues to increase in diversity ($2.5M);
· Support the development of a unified HIPAA and FERPA compliant data system to meet the needs of children and families ($500,000); and
· Support the development of a comprehensive developmental screening process for all children ages zero to eight that includes vision, hearing, physical and dental health, speech and language skills, fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional and cognitive development ($700,000).
Implement NY’s ESSA Plan: In compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, NYSED sent the state's new school accountability plan to the federal government for approval in September. The plan emphasizes fostering equity in education for New York’s students; expands measures for school support and accountability and student success; and requires school-level improvement plans for the lowest performing schools overall as well as schools with the lowest performance for certain student populations.
The plan also includes strategies for supporting the professional growth of educators and ensuring that all students, including English language learners/multilingual learners, immigrant students, migratory youth, homeless youth, and neglected and delinquent youth, have access to a well-rounded, culturally responsive education that supports their academic and social-emotional development. To support the implementation of the state’s ESSA plan, the Board is advancing proposals to:
- Promote positive school climate and bullying prevention ($10M);
- Expand access to quality high-level coursework ($3M);
- Enhance the achievement of English Language Learners by increasing professional development opportunities for teachers, ensuring ELL program follow regulations, and addressing the shortage of bilingual and English as a Second language teachers.” ($6.8M);
- Support schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement or Targeted Support in Improvement under the law ($3.5M);
- Provide high-quality professional learning ($2.9M);
- Create a parent-friendly data dashboard through presentation of important information about school and district performance in a transparent, easy to understand way ($2.5M); and
- Improve transition services to NYS students at neglected and delinquent facilities ($300K).
Create Efficiencies for NYSED and School Districts: The Board proposed efficiency actions to enhance and streamline core Department and school district functions including to:
- Provide spending authority to build a new electronic licensing and document management system ($4.3M in spending authority);
- Provide mandate relief by eliminating or significantly reducing the number of statutory mandates and providing greater flexibility in the areas of transportation, educational management services, special education requirements. In addition, provide NYSED greater flexibility in processing the of State Aid claims; and
- Enhance NYSED’s discipline authority of the licensed professions.