December 13, 2010

Regents adopt proposal for education budget

Source: NYSUT Communications

From the State Education Department:

For Immediate Release

REGENTS ADOPT 2011-2012 STATE AID PROPOSAL; BALANCE NEED FOR ADEQUATE FUNDING WITH STATE'S FISCAL CRISIS

The State Aid Subcommittee of the Board of Regents today adopted a State Aid proposal for 2011-2012 that recommends adherence to the Foundation Aid funding formula phase-in with no increase in Foundation Aid funding at this time.

Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said, "The Board is keenly aware of the incredibly difficult fiscal conditions the State and local school districts face on a daily basis. At the same time, we must do a better job of preparing all students for college and careers. Our proposal seeks to minimize the impact of the State's deficit on school districts while strengthening the education reform efforts that are already underway across New York."

The Regents proposal recommends no overall increase in Foundation Aid funding this year, but sets a projected target of 2016-17 for full implementation of the Aid formula. The proposal also recommends the State guarantee that no district will experience a loss of Foundation Aid of more than five percent over the prior year.

The Regents remain firmly committed to the Foundation Aid approach to school funding, an approach based on student success that drives resources to those districts and students most in need. In light of the ongoing recession, the Board is not recommending an overall increase in Foundation Aid funding at this time. The Regents are, however, proposing the use of current information from school districts to provide formula-driven increases to those districts with the greatest needs.

State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner said, "The Regents have advanced a proposal that strikes a balance - it recognizes the State's fiscal circumstances while providing a measure of stability and support for New York's 700 school districts, with a particular focus on our state's high needs students and schools."

The Regents also recommend that State support for expense-based aids (e.g., Building Aid and Transportation Aid) - which have historically increased by hundreds of millions of dollars each year - be moderated. The intent is to balance State support for school construction, pupil transportation, and shared services - which has been increasing - with State support for school operation and maintenance - which has remained static. The Regents recommend changes in the State share of costs for State Building and Transportation Aid related to costs for future school construction projects and for current reimbursement for pupil transportation and BOCES services. They further recommend that BOCES Aid for cooperative programs and services support implementation of the Regents reform agenda as a priority.

Other recommendations in the Regents State Aid proposal include:

• Developing three year financial plans by school districts to identify future cost increases and support better informed financial planning processes;

• Appropriating $15 million to ensure the continuation of the Regents examination testing program;

• Restructuring State funding for the Universal Pre-kindergarten Program to provide more stability and greater predictability and flexibility;

• Reinstituting a formula to provide for High Tax Aid to eligible districts with extraordinary taxpayer burdens;

• Providing greater flexibility in State support for textbooks and software with a combined Instructional Materials Aid;

• Supporting the Comptroller's proposal to allow districts to establish additional reserve funds to plan for future obligations including retiree expenses;

• Providing mandate relief which could include requirements for special education, middle school, seat time, and planning and reporting;

• Establishing a panel to review current incentives and disincentives for school district reorganization, and supporting models which are consistent with needed educational reforms, cost savings and shared services;

• Increasing the role of District Superintendents as regional leaders, and BOCES as regional service providers - including providing certain services to charter schools and State agencies that educate students;

• Promoting and expanding the role of the BOCES central business office services; and

• Exploring cost containment options for health insurance provided to school district employees.

Details of the Regents request, which recommends a $91 million increase in general support to public schools over last year's funding are in the attached Regents Item posted here:

http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2010Meetings/December2010/1210saa1.pdf.