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December 10, 2018
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JP O'Hare

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Board of Regents Advances 2019 Budget and Legislative Priorities and State Aid Request for the 2019-2020 School Year

Board of Regents Call for $2.1 Billion Increase in Funding for Schools

Proposals Focus on Equity, ESSA Implementation, Early Learning,
English Language Learners and Efficiency

The New York State Board of Regents today called for a $2.1 billion increase in Foundation aid for the 2019-2020 school year to support English Language Learners, career and technical education programs and universal prekindergarten programs.  In addition, the Board advanced a bold and comprehensive set of funding proposals to best meet the needs of every student in New York by achieving Equity, implementing Every Student Succeeds Act, supporting Early Childhood Learning and English Language Learners, and enhancing efficiency. 

“The Board of Regents and I believe that all children should have access to a high-quality education regardless of their race, where they live or where they go to school,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said.  “The priorities and proposals put forth today build on the idea that every child in every school deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged; and they will ultimately allow the Department to implement programs to achieve this goal.”

“As the Department continues to work toward ensuring that every student in New York receives the best education possible, the agenda announced today will allow us to work with schools across the state to provide students with a quality education in a productive learning environment,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said.  “An investment in our education infrastructure is an investment in our future, I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Executive as we build on the promise a of brighter future for New York’s students.”

Co-Chair of the State Aid Subcommittee Regent Beverly L. Ouderkirk said, “Providing our children with the opportunity to learn at an early age is one of the best investments we can make as a state.  Working with my colleagues on the Board of Regents, we have proposed a Foundation Aid formula that will meet the needs of school districts and enhance opportunities for students while recognizing the realities of the State’s fiscal restraints.”

Co-Chair of the State Aid Subcommittee Regent Nan Eileen Mead said, “Equity remains one of the pillars of the Board of Regents priorities.  I am confident that the State Aid proposal announced today will benefit the districts with the most need and open doors to otherwise unavailable opportunities to give all young New Yorkers a chance to thrive.” 

State Aid Proposal

The Regents propose $2.1 billion in additional investments in education, with $1.66 billion in aid formula increases, $410 million in statutory reimbursement-based aid increases, $25 million for the expansion of career and technical education (CTE) programs and $26 million for universal prekindergarten expansion. Most importantly, the proposal would put the state on a committed path to fully phasing-in the Foundation Aid formula.

Foundation Aid: To provide stability and predictability in the Foundation Aid formula, the Regents State Aid Proposal continues to call for the full phase-in of the formula over a three-year period by the 2021-22 school year, with the restoration of a previously-used inflationary factor that will help stabilize fluctuations in aid levels due to changes in fixed costs. These changes would provide over $1.6 billion in additional annual Foundation Aid statewide over the next three years, achieved through a combination of three targeted increases:

  • A uniform percentage phase-in increase for all districts that have a remaining phase-in;
  • A minimum increase for all districts; and
  • A new $85 million English Language Learner set-aside within Foundation Aid, to accelerate additional Foundation Aid to districts through an ELL-driven formula and will ensure that such funds are spent consistent with Commissioner’s regulations.

Statutory Reimbursement-based Aids:  Consistent with existing law and the most recent claims submitted by school districts to the Department, the Regents State Aid Proposal also includes $410 million in increases for reimbursement-based aid formulas for the 2019-2020 school year, such as Building Aid ($272 million), Transportation Aid ($77 million), BOCES Aid ($22 million), Public and Private Excess Cost Aid for special education services ($13 million), and the consolidation of prekindergarten programs ($25 million).

Career and Technical Education:  Recent years have shown reduced participation in CTE programming, even as the Board has worked to incorporate success in the most rigorous programs into the State’s graduation pathways. High-quality CTE programs are a boon to the state’s economy – as they prepare the workforce of the future with the skills employees need on the first day of work.  The Regent’s State Aid Proposal provides an expansion of CTE programs for all districts, with an increased reimbursement for BOCES-operated programs and an additional $25 million in CTE funding for non-BOCES component districts, such as the Big 5 City school districts.

Universal Prekindergarten:  Based on the recommendation of the Board of Regents, in 2017 the Governor and Legislature put the state on a path toward the consolidation of the multiple separate prekindergarten programs that existed. Building on that success, the Regents State Aid Proposal includes a total of $26 million for further expansion of programs for four-year-olds. First, $20 million would allow for the addition of 2,000 more children to be served, which would bring the overall percentage of students served in New York State to just under 70 percent. Second, $6 million would be provided for pilot programs to create a single reimbursement structure for prekindergarten inclusion programs by blending existing prekindergarten and preschool special education funding mechanisms.

The Board’s full State Aid Proposal can be found on the Department’s website.

Non-State Aid Budget and Legislative Priority Highlights

Ensure Equitable Access to High-Quality Schools and Programs for All Students:  The Regents and the Department remain committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of background, zip code, first language or disability, have equitable opportunities to prepare for college, careers and civic engagement.  The Board proposal puts forth a comprehensive agenda that will increase equity among all students through the Regents State Aid Proposal and by advancing proposals to: 

  • Promote Positive School Climate and Bullying Prevention, funding will build on last year’s critical investment by establishing the Supportive Schools Grant Program to provide resources for schools to assess their current environment and to provide them with the assistance necessary to develop and implement a plan—derived from evidence-based strategies and best practices—for improving school culture, climate, and safety ($8M);
  • Expand Access to quality, high-level Coursework that supports the diverse needs of students throughout New York State ($3M).
  • Support NYS Access and Opportunity Programs that are available to students attending college and provide access to higher education for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity ($10M);
  • Increase opportunities for DREAMers by eliminating provisions in state law that require students to be a U.S. Citizen or permanent lawful resident to receive general awards, including TAP, academic performance awards, scholarships or other financial assistance;
  • Enhance Supports and Services for Postsecondary Success of Students with Disabilities ($15M);
  • Increase access to a highly qualified, diverse teaching workforce through the Teacher Opportunity Corp program ($500,000);
  • Increase funding to build on the success of the State Aid for Library Construction Program ($11M);
  • Expand access to education programs in cultural institutions through the Museum Education Act ($5M);
  • Establish a Bridge to College and Careers Pilot Program ($3M); and

Implementation of New York’s ESSA Plan: In January 2018, the federal government approved New York State’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan.  The State’s ESSA plan emphasizes fostering equity in education for all students in New York State and providing support to schools as they work to ensure that every student succeeds.  To support the implementation of the plan, the Board is advancing proposals to:

  • Support schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement or Targeted Support in Improvement ($3.5M);
  • Improve transition services to New York State students at neglected and delinquent facilities ($300,000);
  • Provide high-quality professional learning ($2.9M); and
  • Create a parent-friendly data system, that presents important information about school and district performance in a transparent, easy to understand manner ($2.5M).

Increase Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education Programs:  The Board‘s Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee developed a robust series of recommendations to improve and expand opportunity for all early learning programs. In addition to the Regents State Aid Proposal, which includes a total of $26 million in prekindergarten investments, the Board seeks an additional $8.5 million in funding that would support initiatives to further expand access to high-quality early care and education by advancing proposals to:

  • Require that all public-school districts offer full-day kindergarten for all children by the 2020-2021 school year;
  • Establish Early Learning Regional Technical Assistance Centers to provide support to early care and educational settings including mental health consultation, training in social and emotional learning and development, and professional development on implementing high-quality early childhood education ($2M);
  • Expand existing initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining qualified staff in approved special education programs and develop additional incentives to expand the number of qualified individuals to serve students with disabilities($6M);
  • Expand QUALITYstarsNY, New York’s early childhood Quality Rating and Improvement System that provides an infrastructure for assessing, improving and communicating the quality of care provided by early learning programs throughout the state ($3M);
  • Support the development of a unified HIPAA and FERPA compliant comprehensive developmental screening process to meet the needs of children and families ($700,000); and
  • Conduct a cost study of a high-quality prekindergarten program for all 4-year-old children with appropriate weightings for areas of economic disadvantage, emergent multilingual learners and students with disabilities ($300,000).

Enhance the Achievement of English Language Learners: The Regents and the Department are committed to ensuring that the entire assessment program is productive and contributes to improved teaching and learning opportunities of ELLs/MLLs students. In addition to the investments proposed in the Regent’s State Aid Proposal, the Regents support providing ELLs/MLLs students with the opportunity to test in their native language through:

  • Development of a Spanish Language Arts test and implementation supports to provide districts with the option of offering this assessment when it would best measure the progress of Spanish-speaking ELLs/MLLs students ($3.43 million); and
  • Increasing the offering of translations of required 3-8 assessments and Regents Exams to the eight most common home languages of today’s ELL/MLL students- Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, and Russian ($1 million).

These assessments will better inform school districts and NYSED on students’ knowledge and abilities and will assist the field with future instructional strategies.

Create Efficiencies for NYSED and School Districts:  The Board has proposed efficiency actions to enhance and streamline core Department and school district functions including to:

  • Implement phase two of the Department’s Special Education Services Management Data System to improve the Department’s ability to collect, use, and disseminate relevant programmatic and fiscal information relating to programs and services operated by approved special education providers in the State ($3.46M);
  • Improve school district capital construction related services by continuing to develop a new project management system for the Department’s Office of Facilities Planning ($300,000);
  • Provide relief to school districts by forgiving penalties associated with the late filing of Final Cost Reports and allowing districts to lease space outside of the district in certain emergency situations; and
  • Establish 5% set-aside from all grant awards for the Department to provide proper oversight, support, and technical assistance grantees to ensure that districts receive adequate and timely support and that New Yorkers trust that tax dollars are being well spent.  

A full description of the Board’s legislative and budget priorities can be found on the Department’s website.