This week Gov. Kathy Hochul released her 2024-2025 executive budget, including school aid funding proposals and more details about her legislative priorities.
The executive budget provides $10 million to train educators on evidence- and science-based instructional practices regarding teaching reading. The funds will support professional learning for roughly 20,000 teachers in the Science of Reading while preserving districts' autonomy to update their individual curriculums. It specifies that the State Education Department will provide school districts with updated best practices for Pre-K to grade three before July 1, 2024.
- This means: Access for educators to a broad scope of the most recent, research-backed literacy methods and professional tools and training developed with NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust (ELT).
Children’s mental health programs
The executive budget expands mental health services for children and families by investing an additional $12 million in the HealthySteps program and Home Based Crisis Intervention teams, $5 million for High Fidelity wrap-around supports and $10 million to develop school-based clinics.
- This means: Increased supports for the whole child and better resources to address the mental health crises that affect every individual in our public schools and facilities.
Social media and children
The executive budget includes two initiatives that are supported by NYSUT – The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act – that would enhance parental controls as well as ensure that companies are not targeting algorithms to children.
- This means: Creating conditions that allow students to navigate emerging technologies and social media platforms safely, as well as keeping our schools as spaces where the focus is on learning and engagement.
Foundation Aid cuts
The executive budget proposes a $507 million increase in Foundation Aid, compared to the $926 million it was scheduled to increase under current law. The cuts come from two elements:
1. Lower consumer price index (CPI) figure: Under current law, Foundation Aid is annually adjusted by CPI from the prior calendar year. The governor’s proposal does not make that adjustment – which is scheduled to be about 4 percent. Instead, the proposal uses a 10-year CPI average of 2.1 percent, which lowers the amount of calculated Foundation Aid for all school districts.
2. Hold Harmless: The executive budget ends the state’s guarantee that school districts get at least as much school aid as the previous year, a policy dating back to the 1970s called “hold harmless” or “save harmless.” This provision has allowed school districts a baseline to calculate future budgets and helped preserve programs and staff during times of uncertainty. Ending the policy would reduce budgets in 337 school districts by about $167 million total.
- This means: Underfunding Foundation Aid by more than $400 million, negatively impacting all districts in the state, and not fulfilling the state’s promise to fully fund the Foundation Aid formula.
The executive budget proposal is just the start of the lengthy budget process which includes input from stakeholders during public hearings and counter proposals from both the Senate and the Assembly. NYSUT is committed to ensuring that our schools, staff and educators are supported and that last year’s historic victory of fully funding our schools will continue long into the future. We will be engaged, fighting for our members, every step of the way.