$21.9 Billion Education Budget Supports Students and Schools During Tough Economy

April 1, 2009
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) said the 2009-2010 state budget continues the Assembly’s commitment to provide a solid education for New York State’s children despite tough economic times. The budget stabilizes aid to schools by restoring $1.1 billion to school districts.

“The 2009-10 state budget could have been a disaster for schools, students and taxpayers,” Jacobs said. “Even during the worst economic downturn in decades, we maintained our strong commitment to educating our children and providing them with the tools and skills they will need to compete successfully for the jobs of the 21st century.”

Meeting the commitment to school districts

Assistant Speaker Jacobs said the budget lifts the governor’s freeze on reimbursable expense-based aids, including transportation, building aid and BOCES – ensuring school districts have access to the funds they need. Foundation aid for the 2009-2010 school year will remain at current levels. The Assembly continues its historic commitment to foundation aid by phasing in full funding over three years, a year earlier than the executive’s proposal, starting in 2011-12.

“This budget continues our commitment to education across the state,” Jacobs said. “We must ensure all school districts have the aid they need and guarantee that no school district falls behind.”

Special education cost shift

The budget rejects a shift in cost to school districts for the preschool special education program, saving school districts $185 million in the 2009-10 school year.

Staying committed to universal pre-kindergarten

The Assembly has been on the forefront of fighting for the continuation and growth of the universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program to ensure that every 4-year-old in the state has the opportunity to get a head start in school. Over the past three years, funding and participation for pre-K programs have grown dramatically – a clear indication of the value of early learning to a child’s ongoing educational experience, noted Jacobs.

The Assembly continues its commitment to UPK by maintaining funding at $376 million. In addition, the budget accepts the executive’s proposal to allow for the mid-year expansion of programs that started in the 2008-09 school year.

“Studies show again and again the lasting benefits pre-K has on student preparation, performance and college attendance,” Jacobs said. “Children attending pre-K are better prepared to meet the demands facing them in their schooling and ultimately, in the global economy.”

Centers for Teaching Excellence

To provide teachers with the resources they need to succeed and become the very best teachers they can, the budget fully restores executive cuts to teacher resource and computer training centers, which provide ongoing professional education services to the state’s teachers, allocating $40 million for the 2009-10 school year.

In addition, the budget restores $2 million to the teacher mentor intern program, a program that enables experienced teachers in a district to provide guidance and support to beginning teachers.

Contract for Excellence

The budget will continue the Contract for Excellence program for the 2009-10 school year. School districts that are required to prepare a Contract for Excellence will maintain the same level of funding as last year, ensuring schools will not have to reduce spending on allowable programs, including class-size reductions, academic after-school programs and full-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.

In addition, the budget creates new reporting requirements for New York City regarding its Five Year Class Size Reduction Plan to include detailed information by school on:

  • number of classrooms and teachers that existed prior to receiving CFE funds and the number of new classrooms and new teachers created with funds;
  • actual average class sizes for each year funding was received; and
  • those that received CFE funds and did not reach class size reduction goals and the actions to be taken in those schools to reduce class sizes.

Additional education restorations

In addition, the budget restores:

  • $10.58 million in library aid and $79,000 to the Talking Book and Braille Library;
  • $6.9 million for adult literacy education programs to help adults who have difficulties reading and writing improve their communication skills – an increase of $2 million over the executive proposal;
  • $15 million in operating aid for public television and radio stations for educational programming – an increase of $5.6 million over the executive proposal;
  • $2.5 million set aside within employment preparation education for students with high school diplomas still needing basic skills;
  • $2 million for teacher salary enhancements for those who teach preschool and school-age students with special needs;
  • $1.5 million for workforce education for a total of $13 million within employment-preparation education;
  • $1.38 million to Math and Science High Schools; and
  • $1 million for workplace literacy to improve literacy and worker skill levels.

The budget continues Bilingual Education at $12.5 million; rejects language that would modify rate-setting methodology for itinerant teachers – special education professionals – in the preschool education program; rejects the elimination of the Science, Math and Bilingual set-aside within the Teachers of Tomorrow program; and rejects review of the current allocation methodology for funds among public broadcast stations. The budget also expands the definition of aidable software to include video, audio, images and teacher guides – providing teachers more resources for the classroom.

“Education is the key to our state’s success, and that’s why the Assembly will continue to provide the funding needed for all children to receive the high-quality education they deserve,” Jacobs said.

Federal stimulus funds

The budget uses the following federal funds to help local school districts over the next two years:

  • $906 million in Title I funds, which is financial assistance for schools with high percentages of disadvantaged children to help ensure all children meet the state’s academic standards;
  • $794 million for the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), ensuring that mandatory early intervention, special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities;
  • $200 million for State Incentive Grant and Innovation Funds;
  • $253 million in Title I school improvement grants, allowing identified schools in need of improvement to use the funds for professional development, before and after-school programs, and instructional materials for students and teachers;
  • $55.5 million in technology grants for schools to buy computers, networks and instructional software;
  • $28.8 million for vocational rehabilitation, which includes funds for independent living centers that help people with disabilities learn to live more independently in their communities;
  • $20 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund;
  • $6 million for cafeteria equipment; and
  • $4.5 million to provide equal access and support services for the education of homeless children and youth.

“Our commitment to education will not only help the state weather this economic storm but will relieve the burden on local taxpayers by providing the extra resources we need to educate children throughout the state,” concluded Jacobs.