Long Island, NY - December 16, 2014 - The New York State Board of Regents gave final approval to its 2015-2016 State School Aid proposal, calling for a $2 billion increase in state aid, more equitable funding for high need school districts, funding directed to restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), and increased investments in programs to ensure that school districts can improve performance consistent with the goal of college and career readiness for all students. The proposal was approved at the Board of Regents meeting this morning.
“The Regents State Aid Proposal strikes the right balance, driving more money to school districts with the greatest student needs and addressing the Regents’ priorities,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. “The proposal includes funding to help create multiple pathways to graduation, improve services for English Language Learners and support early childhood learning, while at the same time working to restore the GEA that unfairly penalizes many districts. This is not an either/or proposition – the resources exist to help lift student achievement across the board, and the Regents will continue to advocate forcefully to make sure our students get the funding they need to succeed.”
“The Regents have advanced a common-sense proposal that is based in reality,” said State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. “The plan recognizes the ongoing fiscal challenges faced by the State and by local school districts while at the same time advancing critically important investments in programs and services that support English language learners, newly arrived immigrants, CTE (Career and Technical Education) and early childhood programs, and other initiatives aimed at lifting the level of achievement for all students.”
“School districts across the State will continue to operate within a constrained fiscal environment this year,” said Regent James R. Tallon, Jr., Chair of the Regents State Aid Subcommittee. “At the same time, however, these same districts will continue their efforts to implement more rigorous learning standards in their classrooms. Many districts will also take on the work of improving access to high-quality early childhood education programs and high-quality CTE offerings. The Regents State Aid proposal offers a balanced approach that will give districts the resources they need to successfully take on these new and existing challenges.”
In its deliberations, the Regents State Aid Subcommittee considered three possible methods to allocate General Support for Public School spending. The first method focused on Foundation Aid, leaving GEA deductions outstanding; the second focused on full GEA restorations, which raised concerns about an approach that applied primarily to lower need districts. The Subcommittee ultimately chose and today adopted a third approach – a blended “Transitional Operating Formula” – that features a combination of GEA restoration and new Operating Aid allocated according to the existing principles underlying the Foundation Aid formulas.
The State Aid Proposal reflects several emerging policy issues and details the means by which State Aid can be used to address the Board’s goals, including:
- Support for the high quality Career and Technical Education programming that will create new opportunities under the Multiple Pathways initiative;
- A more coordinated early childhood system that enhances access to high-quality education programs statewide;
- Improved services for English Language Learners (ELLs);
- Support for the education of recent immigrants;
- The need to invest in new instructional materials that reflect college and career ready standards;
- Professional development for teachers that relies on teacher leaders with proven classroom success to serve as coaches and mentors for their colleagues; and
- Encouraging regionalization efforts where appropriate.
Additionally, the Regents State Aid proposal recommends two areas in which the State can make one-time investments using some of the $4.8 billion that is available through non-recurring legal settlements. First, the proposal recommends that a portion of the settlement funds be used to eliminate the current lagged reimbursement process that limits the ability of many upstate districts to participate in the new Statewide Universal Full-Day Prekindergarten program. Second, the Regents recommend that a portion of the funds be used to support an accelerated payment of certain already-approved school district aid claims for past years (referred to as “prior year adjustments”). Without a major payment, some of these claims will otherwise go unpaid for over a decade. The Regents also call for investing capital funds in BOCES Career and Technical Education Centers in order to support the Multiple Pathways initiative.
The Regents 2015-16 State School Aid Proposal is available at this link.