Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol: State Budget Comes Through for All New York Students

April 2, 2007

Assemblyman Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) announced today that the final state budget makes a historic investment in New York’s education system, providing an unprecedented $1.7 billion increase to help students succeed in an ever-changing global economy.

“The Assembly and I have long championed an educational approach that stresses three Rs – Reform + Resources = Results, and this year’s budget is certainly the right equation for our children,” Assemblyman Lentol said.

A historic investment in our schools

“The final state budget continues my efforts in the Assembly to help provide every single one of our children with not just a sound, basic education – but a first-class, quality education that will help them be successful in life,” Assemblyman Lentol said.

Included in the budget is the new foundation education formula for predictable, stable and transparent funding – something he and the Assembly have insisted on for over a decade, according to Assemblyman Lentol.

Reducing class sizes

“The budget we have negotiated requires New York City to prepare a Contract for Excellence that must include, among other initiatives, a much needed plan to reduce average class sizes within five years in the specified grade ranges and class size reduction for low performing and overcrowded schools,” declared Assemblyman Lentol

“Comparing the average class size in New York City to the rest of the state reveals an overwhelming disparity – a disparity we must end,” Assemblyman Lentol said. “The spending plan steers state aid coming to the city to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling toward this important goal.”

“I have seen with my own eyes, in schools in my district incredibly hardworking teachers who are simply stretched too thin and unable to give the students of North Brooklyn the attention they deserve,” lamented Assemblyman Lentol. He noted that no matter how experienced and dedicated the teacher, when there are too many children in a classroom, it’s inevitable that some children will slip through the cracks.

“This is something that we can prevent,” Assemblyman Lentol said. “All the research indicates that smaller classes improve student performance, and the bipartisan budget addresses this issue.”

Expanding early education

The budget provides $43.4 million more to advance the Assembly’s plan to provide statewide universal pre-K and ensure that every 4-year-old in the state has the opportunity to get a head start on school.

“This expansion will allow more New York children to reap the lasting benefits of attending pre-K, which studies show again and again give our children an advantage in student achievement, college enrollment and future earnings,” Assemblyman Lentol said.

Assemblyman Lentol added that in visits to Pre-K programs in his district he has consistently been impressed with their performance and importance. “You can really see the children flourishing through the opportunities provided to them in Pre-K, which is why I have fought to try to ensure that all children in North Brooklyn and beyond get that chance,” said Assemblyman Lentol.

Charter schools

The state budget authorizes 100 more charter schools while instituting reforms to ease the financial impact on local school districts, increase accountability, and ensure communities have a voice in where they are located.

“Some communities welcome charter schools as an innovative way to improve educational opportunities for their children,” Assemblyman Lentol said. “This budget plan will help ensure charter schools open in communities where they make sense, while protecting the students who attend our traditional public schools.”

Reforms include:

  • Providing $22.5 million in transitional aid to school districts that host charter schools
  • Increasing public notification and input during the application process for the approval or renewal of a charter school;
  • Improving the charter school approval process and a public hearing in communities potentially receiving new charter schools; and
  • Requiring notice and a public hearing when a charter school seeks to share space with the traditional school.

Raising standards in our schools

Assemblyman Lentol supported the governor’s Contract for Excellence between the state and school districts receiving significant funding, and with schools requiring academic progress, as determined by existing benchmarks, to use proven strategies to improve the standards and success of our schools.

“There will be no more excuses for failure. Education is the key to success, and that’s why I support raising the bar in our schools,” Assemblyman Lentol said.

“The Assembly and I have worked hard to come together with the governor and Senate to pass a state budget that makes a historic investment in New York State’s educational system,” Assemblyman Lentol said. “This support will undoubtedly better prepare our children for higher education and to compete in a changing world.”