Governor’s Budget Fails Local Schools…Again

January 27, 2006

With his final budget, the governor boasts that he proposed additional education funding in his budget this year, the truth is he once again shortchanged operating aid for local schools, including Brentwood and Central Islip school districts.

Sadly, the governor continues to ignore the proven ability of programs like smaller class sizes, universal pre-K, and full-day kindergarten to help our students achieve their full potential. It’s obvious that his proposal is far less than what schools need to achieve higher academic standards.

In fact, Brentwood, one of the largest school districts in the state, will receive less than a 1% increase in funding this year – leaving less money for supplies, technology hardware, library textbooks and other essentials that a school should have to provide a sound education for our students. The Superintendent of Brentwood School District called the governor’s budget disappointing. He had trouble fathoming how a high-tax, low-income school district like his received such a miniscule increase under the executive budget, while local affluent districts were receiving more aid.

Central Islip, under the governor’s budget, will receive a measly increase which won’t even cover the rising cost of living on Long Island. Additionally, other local schools like Bay Shore, Islip and Hauppauge School Districts will all see a decrease in state aid under the governor’s plan. How is this showing the governor’s “commitment to improving educational opportunities for all students in New York State,” as he claimed in his State of the State address?

Even though the governor likes to take credit for large school aid increases achieved during his tenure, it has been the Legislature that has pushed for – and accomplished – these increases in aid. Last year, I helped secure $7.6 million more in school aid for local schools than the governor’s proposal, while providing high-needs schools like Brentwood and Central Islip with an additional 5 percent for building aid. It’s clear that the Assembly will have to take the lead again this year and fight for the money schools – like Brentwood and Central Islip – desperately need and deserve.