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December 13, 2016
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JP O'Hare

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Board Of Regents Adopts 2017 Budget And Legislative Priorities And Approves State Aid Request For the 2017-2018 School Year

Regents Call for Phasing in Foundation Aid Over the Next Three Years

Regents Propose $2.1 Billion Increase in Funding for Schools

Board Advocates for Streamlining Pre-K Programming, Continued Funding for Monitors in East Ramapo, and Reinstating Language Other than English Assessments and Other Assessment Translations

Video & Audio of Commissioner Elia Discussing Proposals Available

The New York State Board of Regents today called for phasing in Foundation Aid over the next three years, proposed $1.8 billion increase in Foundation aid and $290 million in priority investments as part of the Board’s 2017-2018 State Aid Proposal. In addition, the Board adopted its P-12 and Higher Education Budget and Legislative Priorities, which include streamlining the state’s seven distinct prekindergarten programs, continued funding for the monitors in East Ramapo and resources and tools to better support English Language Learner students. The Board’s priorities also reaffirm its commitment to ensuring all of New York’s students have equal opportunity and access to higher education with its support for the DREAMers Act.

“These priorities and proposals reflect this Board’s deep commitment to ensuring equity across all of our districts while being responsive to the needs of schools and districts, and, most importantly, to improving outcomes for our students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Now is the time to act on these priorities, particularly the Regents Education Equity for DREAMers Act, so that all of our young people have access to the same high-quality educational opportunities. It’s in everyone’s interest to work together to make our priorities a reality. The result will be stronger public schools and a better prepared workforce and citizenry for New York State.”

“For our schools to continue to improve and provide our students with the best education possible, they must have proper and equitable funding—our State Aid Proposal is aimed at making that happen,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “The same is true for our budget and legislative priorities. We are calling for smart investments and commonsense policies that will strengthen our schools and benefit our students. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature and in the Executive’s office to move this agenda forward.”

“The Board of Regents first proposed Foundation Aid more than ten years ago,” Regent James R. Tallon, Jr. said. “With the full restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment in last year’s budget, we look forward to the continued implementation of the Foundation Aid formula as it provides additional resources to school districts that need it the most.  The Regents proposal is an important first step in this direction.”

State Aid Proposal

The Regents propose $2.1 billion in additional investments in education, with $1.8 billion in aid formula increases and $290 million in priority investments. The $1.8 billion in formula aid represents a 7-percent increase in aid, with $1.5 billion provided for an increase in Foundation Aid. The Foundation Aid formula should be improved by updating long-outdated student need measurements and removing artificial limits on aid to high-need districts. This includes ensuring that all districts are receiving at least two-thirds of their total Foundation Aid amount. The Board calls for a three year phase-in of Foundation Aid, with the formula fully provided by the 2019-2020 school year.

The Board also seeks to invest $290 million in four priority program areas:

•         Expand Universal Prekindergarten ($100 million): Consolidate all prekindergarten programs into one unified program and continue to expand access to high-quality prekindergarten programs to all four year-old students in New York State;

•         Education of English language learners ($100 million): Support for appropriate programs and opportunities for students who are learning English including access to dual-language programs and age- and language-appropriate materials and supports;

•         College and Career Pathways ($60 million): Increase support for career and technical education through BOCES and in large city and other districts that do not belong to BOCES; and

•         Professional Development for Teachers and Principals ($30 million): Create an Instructional Development Fund.  This Fund would build upon the existing work of districts and BOCES and leverage lessons learned from the implementation of previous teacher and leader initiatives.

Budget and Legislative Priority Highlights

Streamlining Pre-K

The Board supports legislation to and align the existing state-funded Pre-K programs into one streamlined system that is allocational – not competitive. This legislation would simplify and consolidate the funding process for prekindergarten programs by eliminating the fragmentation in the current seven distinct prekindergarten programs by using the Universal Prekindergarten Program (UPK) allocation process for all prekindergarten programs. This would occur through a multi-year phase-in of prekindergarten program funding streams being absorbed into a school district’s UPK allocation formula as competitive contracts expire. In addition the Regents support aligning program standards, eligibility requirements, and oversight processes to ensure high-quality programming.

Supporting English Language Learners’/Multilingual Learners’ Success

SED proposes several actions to further support the success of English Language Learners and Multilingual Learners. To enable ELLs to demonstrate their knowledge in their home language, the Regents support developing a native language arts exam. 

The Board has also requested funding to develop and implement a Native Language Arts test in Spanish and to translate all required assessments into Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, and Russian (the most common home languages of English Language and Multilanguage Learners (ELL/MLL). The Native Language Arts test for Spanish-speaking ELLs/MLLs would give districts the option of offering this assessment when it would best measure the progress of these students.

Further, the Board supports reinstituting the Language Other Than English Regents Exams in the most frequently taught languages in New York State high schools to provide additional options to meet graduation requirements. The exams would be offered in the most frequently taught languages in New York State high schools: Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese (Simplified). The Board recognizes the importance of engaging students’ interest in world languages and has established the LOTE pathway under the “4+1” option. Furthermore, the earning of three units of credit in a world language is the most popular pathway to achieving a Regents diploma with advanced designation.

DREAMers Act

The Board is seeking several policy changes to ensure all students have the same access and opportunity to higher education.  The Regents Education Equity for DREAMers Act would eliminate provisions in state law requiring students to be a US citizen or permanent lawful resident to receive general awards, including TAP, academic performance awards, scholarships or other financial assistance. This would include provisions to:

  • authorize SUNY, CUNY and community colleges trustees to provide state-aid programs, scholarships or other financial assistance to undocumented aliens who graduate from New York high schools;
  • allow non-residents, including undocumented aliens, who graduate from New York State high schools to receive State funds in the higher education opportunity programs; and
  • allow undocumented immigrants and their families, who have a taxpayer identification number, to open a New York 529 family tuition savings account.

Continue Monitors in East Ramapo

The Board requests the continuation of funding for the East Ramapo Central School District monitors. The Regents and the Department have taken an active role in East Ramapo to help improve the district’s fiscal, academic and community affairs.  With the involvement of monitors during the past three years, the district has begun to turn around and it is imperative that funding is provided to continue to build on this momentum. 

A full list of the Board’s legislative and budget priorities can be found here

Video of Commissioner Elia discussing the proposals is available here.

Video and audio quotes from Commissioner Elia are available here and here.