ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 15, 2020 — New York State United Teachers today kicked off a seven-week Fund Our Future statewide bus tour. It draws attention to the severe impact a lack of state funding has had on schools statewide, and the need for new revenues to tackle educational inequality, and other pressing needs.
Speaking at a kickoff event at the state capitol, 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 middle-class families and students through more underfunding of our education system. Fully funding our students’ futures can’t wait any longer.”
As the state budget takes shape, the Fund Our Future bus tour will stop in school districts across New York that have been shortchanged by the state to demonstrate the myriad issues caused by underfunding. Following the campaign launch at the state capitol, the tour traveled to Bradt Primary School in the Mohonasen Central School District Wednesday afternoon to hear from educators. As the district grapples with a recurring budget gap, class sizes are ballooning districtwide, leaving educators with less individual time with students and supplies in some classes short. What’s more, key programs like music education and critical library services have faced steep cuts.
New York State owes the district more than $5.5 million in Foundation Aid, which contributes to the annual budget shortfall. Without additional state aid, the district may be forced to consider cuts to programs like advanced courses, athletics, electives and kindergarten, among others, according to Superintendent Shannon Shine.
“We are at the point where harm is being done to student programming and there are profound negative impacts on the near horizon if there is not significant movement on the part of New York State to fully phase in Foundation Aid,” Shine said.
State lawmakers joined NYSUT and local educators Wednesday to draw attention to the serious needs schools face.
The Fund Our Future tour will continue Thursday with stops at schools in Westchester County. Additional tour dates and locations will be announced in the near future.
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.