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December 9, 2019
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JP O'Hare

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Board of Regents Advances 2020 Budget and Legislative Priorities and State Aid Request for the 2020-21 School Year

Board of Regents Calls for $2 Billion Increase in Funding for Schools

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

The New York State Board of Regents today called for a $2 billion increase in Foundation Aid for the 2020-21 school year to support a minimum one percent increase for all districts and prekindergarten expansion and inclusion pilot 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, supporting Early Childhood Learning and English language learners, implementing New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan, and enhancing efficiency within the State Education Department and school districts statewide.

“The Board of Regents and I continue to make it our mission to ensure equity and excellence in education for all children, and our priorities and proposals build upon this work to further these critical efforts,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “These funds would provide school districts with the resources they need while laying the foundation to best support our youngest children, bolstering educator diversity and recruitment and providing tools to make sure that our schools are positive and culturally-responsive learning environments.”

“The Board proposal puts forth a thoughtful and comprehensive agenda that will increase equity among all students and continue the Department’s work toward ensuring that every student in New York receives the best education possible,” Acting State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said. “These strategic investments in our most valuable resources—our children—would provide real benefits for students, teachers, school districts and communities statewide. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Executive to strengthen and support our schools.”

Co-Chair of the State Aid Subcommittee Regent Beverly L. Ouderkirk said, “To provide true equity in our schools, we need to ensure that we are on a path to fully funding Foundation Aid. Working with my colleagues on the Board of Regents, we have proposed a Foundation Aid formula that meets the needs of school districts who must keep pace with inflation and demographic changes while recognizing the realities of the State’s fiscal restraints.”

Co-Chair of the State Aid Subcommittee Regent Nan Eileen Mead said, “Education is the great equalizer, and we must continue to open doors that provide equity of opportunity so that every student, in every school across the State, has access to a high-quality education. Our State Aid request and legislative proposals will help support schools and educators in their work to prepare all children for success in college, meaningful careers and civic engagement.” 

State Aid Proposal

The Regents propose $2 billion in additional investments in education, with $1.9 billion in aid formula increases, $82 million in statutory reimbursement-based aid increases, and $26 million for prekindergarten expansion and inclusion pilot. 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 2022-23 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 a total of $4.7 billion in additional annual Foundation Aid statewide over the next three years, achieved through a combination of targeted increases. These include a percentage phase-in increase for all districts that have a remaining phase-in and a minimum one percent increase for all districts.

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 $82 million in increases for reimbursement-based aid formulas for the 2020-21 school year, such as Transportation Aid ($102 million), BOCES Aid ($11 million), Private Excess Cost Aid for special education services ($28 million), offset by claims-based decreases in Building Aid, High Cost Public Excess Cost Aid, and other aids (totaling negative $59 million).

Prekindergarten Expansion and Inclusion Pilot ($26 million): The Board of Regents has long supported the expansion of Universal Prekindergarten programs across the state, and the Board’s Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee has developed a robust series of recommendations to promote high-quality early childhood education programs. After years of advocacy by the Board, the state consolidated multiple prekindergarten programs into two programs, with total support now approaching $900 million. To continue this expansion, the Regents State Aid Proposal would include a total of $26 million for further expansion of programs for four-year-olds.

First, $20 million would allow for the program to serve an additional 2,000 children. This would bring the percentage of New York State four-year-olds receiving state-funded Prekindergarten programming to nearly 70 percent. Second, $6 million would be provided for pilot programs which will target half- and full-day 10-month and summer inclusion prekindergarten programs for three- and four-year- olds. Funds would be blended and layered with existing prekindergarten and preschool special education funding under a single reimbursement structure for preschool inclusion. The pilot funding would support classrooms comprised of both preschool students with and without disabilities under a comprehensive and consolidated funding structure so that these classrooms could be treated as one program serving all students.

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 ability, 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 through expansion of the Supportive Schools Grant Program. Building on last year’s critical investment, this initiative would provide resources to an additional 16 schools (for a total of 32), and expand the capacity of the Department to support, through both technical assistance and compliance monitoring:
    • school safety emergency response planning;
    • DASA and ESSA accountability requirements regarding chronic absenteeism and school suspension; and
    • increasing the capacity of the Center for School Safety and the Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Centers to provide on-site technical assistance and resources for schools and districts on school climate, implementing behavioral threat assessment teams, reducing incidents of violence, bullying and harassment, and DASA implementation ($3.4M);
  • Create a statutory index to provide parity in annual funding increases for both school-age and preschool special education providers and dedicate targeted resources to design a new tuition rate-setting methodology ($12.65M);
  • 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);
  • Support the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures in its review of research, practice and policy and gathering input from statewide stakeholders on diploma requirements to reaffirm what it means to obtain a diploma in New York State and what a diploma should signify ($200,000);
  • Enhance Supports and Services for Postsecondary Success of Students with Disabilities ($15M);
  • Expand the Provision of Certification Examination Fee Waiver Vouchers to assist economically disadvantaged educator candidates in paying for the examinations required for certification ($1.2M);
  • Expand the Teacher Opportunity Corps II program to increase the number of certified educators of color and to enhance teacher diversity In New York State ($3M);
  • 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
  • Continue access to the NYS Summer School of the Arts to ensure that NYSSSA can remain available to all eligible students regardless of financial need ($1.5M).

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 $8.1 million in funding that would support initiatives to further expand access to high-quality early care and education by advancing proposals to:

  • Transform Teacher and Leader Preparation Programs by establishing a birth-to-grade-three teacher preparation program, birth-to-grade-12 leader preparation programs and funding associated staffing costs ($2.5M);
  • Establish Early Learning Regional Technical Assistance Centers to provide support to early care and educational settings across the state ($1.6M); and
  • 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 ($4M).

Enhance the Achievement of English language learners: The Regents and the Department are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for English language learners and multi-language learners and creating resources and services designed to enhance instruction and advance the literacy skills of ELL/MLLs in English and their home languages. The Board is advancing proposals to support these students including:

  • Increase districts’ capacity to serve English Language Learners by providing new funding to be allocated to school districts to enhance curriculum and increase instructional supports for the education of ELLs ($15M);
  • Increase support services provided to school districts throughout New York State by expanding staff at NYSED’s Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN) and Statewide Language RBERN support centers ($1.6M);
  • Ensure the appropriate provision of English language learner services through creation of a new English Language Proficiency assessment for ELLs with severe cognitive disabilities. This assessment is needed to bring NYS in compliance with ESSA's requirement to accurately measure the English language proficiency of this special population of students ($1M); and
  • Enhance communication with multilingual parents, students and professionals through support of the translation of documents into languages other than English, in support of the Department’s goal of making available culturally responsive-sustaining and linguistically accessible resources for the field and public ($1.5M).

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).

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:

  • Modernize the Education Finance Data System to more efficiently and effectively manage the data collection, reporting, calculation and payment of over $27 billion annually in state aid ($11.6M);
  • Enhance the Department’s discipline authority over all licensed professions it oversees by authorizing the Commissioner or her/his designee, after an investigation and a recommendation by the professional conduct officer, to order a temporary suspension of practice privileges of a licensee or registered entity in extreme cases where there is an imminent danger to the health or safety of the public, and by requiring all licensed professionals to report to the Department any moral character issue(s) upon application for licensure and requiring, at a minimum, that all licensed professionals report to the Department any record of a conviction of a crime in a timely manner. 
  • Provide mandate relief and state aid claims flexibility to school districts by forgiving penalties associated with the late filing of Final Cost Reports, expanding the funds available to pay claims in the first-come-first-served queue, allowing transportation contracts to be submitted electronically in a form approved by the Commissioner when available and allowing districts to lease space outside of the district in certain emergency situations; and
  • Establish 5 percent 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 State Aid proposal as well as non-State Aid legislative and budget priorities can be found on the Department’s website.

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