ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 27, 2020 — New York State United Teachers visited the City School District of Albany earlier today to draw attention to the severe impact a lack of state funding has had on schools in Albany, the Capital Region and across the state. Union activists are also highlighting the need for new revenues that will enable the state to tackle educational inequality, and other pressing needs.
Meeting with local union leaders and school administrators Thursday as part of the Fund Our Future bus tour, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta called on state officials to make full funding of Foundation Aid, the underpinning of how New York funds schools, a top priority this legislative session. Pallotta also advocated for new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires that would generate billions of dollars in new revenue for essential state services.
“Our children do not get a do-over,” Pallotta said. “We hear every year that there is a budget gap, but the state can’t close it on the backs of Albany’s middle class families and students through more underfunding of our education system. Fully funding our students’ futures can’t wait any longer.”
Albany is owed $31.8 million in state Foundation Aid funding. At Sheridan Preparatory Academy, educators say full funding would go a long way toward addressing a lack of space for community school services and the lack of school counselors to adequately address student needs.
“We applaud NYSUT for its leadership on this critical fiscal issue and support the statewide call for fair and equitable funding for all communities,” City School District of Albany Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams said. “Our school district receives 75 percent of our full Foundation Aid funding. Full funding would equate to an additional $32 million to benefit programs and services for our students. It is imperative that the state provide the resources that high-needs districts like ours need.”
State lawmakers are joining with NYSUT in drawing attention to the serious needs schools are facing.
“Every child deserves a quality education,” state Sen. Neil Breslin said. “The City School District of Albany is one of many in our state that provides integral services to students and families, shaping the future of our children and our communities. I stand with NYSUT, the City School District of Albany and every public school in this state in asking that our schools be fully funded.”
“Every child in New York deserves the opportunity for success in the classroom,” Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said. “I will continue to work with my partners in the Legislature to increase critical funding for New York schools that will go toward expanding access and availability of necessary resources for students and families across the state.”
“Fully funding our schools is not just about providing the classes and academic resources our students need for a 21st century education — it’s about providing the counselors, community schools funding and other wrap-around services families rely on,” Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said. “We can’t afford to shortchange schools in Albany and across the state that offer our students an opportunity to thrive both academically and personally. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to ensure students have what they need to succeed in the upcoming budget.”
As the state budget takes shape, NYSUT’s Fund Our Future bus tour is visiting school districts across New York that, like Albany, have been underfunded by the state. A full schedule of tour dates and stops can be found at FundOurFutureNY.org.
NYSUT, as a member of the New York State Educational Conference Board, is calling for a $2.1 billion increase in state aid in the 2020-21 state budget, which includes the first installment of a three-year phase-in of the more than $3.4 billion in Foundation Aid owed to more than 400 school districts around New York.
In order to generate the revenue needed to fully fund Foundation Aid, in addition to other state services like health care, housing and transportation, NYSUT is supportive of new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.