March 2001

From the New York State Assembly    Sheldon Silver, Speaker    Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee

Assembly’s Landmark Two-Year Education Plan Gives Schools the Resources They Need to Plan for the Future

Proposal helps schools raise educational standards and stabilize property taxes  

The Assembly’s budget establishes a ground-breaking two-year education plan that will enable New York’s schools to plan ahead for the first time. We provide a measure of flexibility and equity that will help schools across the state raise educational standards — without shifting the burden onto property taxpayers.

To see how much more funding your school district would receive under the Assembly’s proposal, click here.

For a comparison of the Assembly’s proposal with the Governor’s plan, click here.

We restore the Governor’s $1.1 billion cut in state aid that was promised our schools last year — and we add $200 million more. That means schools will receive $1.7 billion over what they received last year, for a total of $3.4 billion for two years.

Among other things, our plan helps alleviate classroom overcrowding, assures kids start learning at an early age, provides up-to-date computer technology, invests in teacher training, and ensures funding for school maintenance and repair. And our plan provides school districts with much-needed flexibility by streamlining six separate funding categories into a core operating aid formula — so they can use the funding as they see fit.

Two-year plan paves the way toward real reform

Each year, the Governor’s budget cuts school aid and threatens our children’s education. This year, his budget attempted to disguise school aid cuts as reforms, leaving our schools with less resources to help children achieve higher standards.

The Assembly’s budget rejects the Governor’s cuts and proposes a plan to reform the way school aid is distributed.

It’s difficult enough for school districts to plan from year to year without the added worry that they can’t count on money promised them under current law. School districts are forced to put budgets together for voter approval without even knowing how much state aid they can depend on.

By setting up a two-year school aid plan, the Assembly proposal gives schools the information they need to plan timely budgets and prepare programs that meet high standards.

It also reaffirms our commitment to protect property taxpayers from higher tax bills. Our two-year plan guards against education cuts that could force school districts to raise taxes. We are also working to simplify the STAR program, which has helped homeowners save money on their school tax bills.

New formula provides flexibility and adequate resources for all school districts

The Assembly’s proposal recognizes each school district’s distinct needs. To give school districts room to use their funding to meet these needs, we consolidate six separate categories into a core operating aid formula. Our plan also reflects the needs of students who may need a little extra help achieving high standards, and it takes into account the local cost of providing educational services.

Assembly’s LADDER program is making a difference

Experts agree we must reduce class size and start educating children earlier if they are to reach their full potential. The Assembly’s landmark LADDER Program focuses on giving children this early foundation — because we know this preparation is crucial if the next generation is to be competitive in the 21st century economy.

The Governor originally agreed to a four-year phase-in of the LADDER program, but has repeatedly tried to back away from this commitment. This year is no different, with the Governor’s proposal cutting $660 million from LADDER.

In contrast, this year’s Assembly budget proposal fully supports LADDER which, since its implementation in 1998, has been helping schools:

  • meet higher standards;
  • reduce class size;
  • update computer technology;
  • recruit and train highly-skilled teachers; and
  • ensure every child has access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

Research has shown that smaller class sizes and pre-kindergarten benefit children through increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and less disruptive behavior. Just last year, the LADDER program added over 1,000 new classrooms through the Class Size Reduction Program. And in only the last year, it also helped enroll over 50,000 four-year-olds in pre-k programs for a total of 80,000 over the last three years.

In addition to fully funding LADDER, the Assembly Majority’s budget allocates $91 million for Instructional Computer Technology Aid –– a $34 million increase over last year. Included is a $50 million grant program for education technology which does not require a local share –– helping more schools equip their classrooms with 21st century technology.

The Assembly budget also restores $31 million in cuts to BOCES proposed by the Governor, and rejects most of the Governor’s plan to change the building aid formula, which could leave school districts with half-finished building projects and waste already invested taxpayer dollars.

Continuing efforts to improve education

New York trails the nation in state support for elementary education, but the Governor’s policies have ignored the need to make a significant investment in our children’s education –– and in their future success. In fact, the Governor’s budget each year has cut education aid from what our schools are due under current law, threatening the education our children receive.

The Assembly has always made raising educational standards a top priority. Last year, the Assembly defeated the Governor’s $885 million school aid cut and dramatically increased education aid by over $1 billion. This year’s Assembly budget will continue our investment in education by providing local districts with the tools they need to give our children the right start for the jobs of tomorrow and help them meet tougher academic standards.

We urge the Senate to join us this year in budget conference committees to work out an agreement that maintains a strong commitment to quality education, provides students with the tools they need to succeed, and holds the line on property taxes.

New York Trails the Nation in State Support for
Elementary Education

Source: National Education Association Ranking of States 2000
*State share of educational revenues

LADDER Has Already Begun to Reduce Class Sizes

But the Governor’s Budget Would Halt the Completion of 4,000 Additional Classrooms by 2001-02

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