WCSD to receive more state aid under finalized state budget agreement

Under the recently approved 2019-20 New York state budget, the Watervliet City School District is set to receive $13,025,180 in Foundation Aid. This is an increase of $589,626, or approximately 4.7 percent, more than the current year. Foundation Aid is a primary source of state funding for schools. 

The increase in aid to Watervliet is nearly $440,000 more than initially proposed in January by Gov. Cuomo in his Executive Budget.

Watervliet Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lori Caplan said the increase in aid puts the district in a better position than it would have been if the governor’s proposal had been approved. Still, she said it is important to remember that the district is currently underfunded by more than $3 million dollars under the Foundation Aid formula enacted in 2007.

“We continue to experience significant growth in student needs. Our numbers of students living in poverty, our population of English language learners, students with disabilities, and students requiring mental health services are all increasing,” Dr. Caplan said. “It takes resources to provide all students with a quality education and the support they need to be successful. We must have adequate and equitable funding levels to accomplish that.”

She thanked NYS Assemblymember John McDonald for his continued advocacy on behalf of the district, and recognized education committee chairpersons NYS Assemblymember Michael Benedetto and NYS Senator Shelley B. Mayer for making public school funding a top priority in the state budget.

Upcoming budget forums

Parents, teachers, staff and the community are invited to attend two public forums to learn more about the district’s proposed 2019-20 school budget.

  • Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at WES
  • Saturday, April 13 at 9:00 a.m. at WJSHS

The Board of Education will adopt the 2019-20 school budget proposal on Thursday, April 18. District residents will vote on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 21.

Approved state budget increases education funding, enacts permanent property tax levy limit

New York lawmakers met the April 1 deadline and approved a state budget for 2019-20 that increases education funding by just over $1 billion and makes permanent the state’s property tax levy limit law, or tax cap.

The newly approved $175 billion state budget calls for total education spending of $27.9 billion, which represents an increase of 3.8 percent compared to the current year.

School districts have been awaiting a finalized state budget agreement, which provides information about state aid levels for school district operating budgets, so that they can propose their own spending plans for the coming year.

The state aid increase includes $618 million in additional Foundation Aid and $342 million more in reimbursements for such designated expenses as transportation, construction and BOCES services. Foundation Aid and expense-based reimbursements are districts’ primary sources of state funding for everyday school operations.

The remainder of the increases in state aid – about $50 million – will go toward a variety of targeted initiatives and grants, including pre-kindergarten and after-school programming.

The final state budget did not include a consolidation of expense-based aids and reduced building aid reimbursements, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo put forward in his executive budget proposal released in January. It also did not include the Governor’s proposed Equity Funding Formula, which would have directed portions of state aid to specific school buildings. Districts must instead file a report by Sept. 1 on how they will address identified inequities between school buildings within a school district.

Total school aid is higher than what Cuomo initially proposed, but falls short of the $2.1 billion the Board of Regents and the $2.2 billion the Educational Conference Board (ECB) had identified as necessary for schools in 2019-20.

The ECB is comprised of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts, New York State Council of School Superintendents, New York State PTA, New York State School Boards Association, New York State United Teachers and the School Administrators Association of New York State.

Funding for targeted education initiatives in state budget

The following are additional highlights of the $27.9 billion education spending plan included in the newly enacted state budget:

  • Community Schools: The Foundation Aid increase includes a $50 million set-aside for community schools, resulting in $250 million total for a range of programs and services in schools designated as struggling or in other high-need districts.
  • Pre-kindergarten: The budget includes $15 million to serve more of the state’s three- and four-year-old children in pre-kindergarten programs.
  • After-school programs: A $10 million increase from the current year will help fund after-school programs.
  • Teacher Resource and Computer Training Centers: The budget adds $14 million to existing funding for Teacher Resource and Computer Training Centers.
  • My Brother’s Keeper: The program that supports initiatives to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color is slated for $18 million in new funding.
  • Bilingual education grants: The budget includes $18.5 million in bilingual education grants and $770,000 for training programs for teachers in bilingual/multilingual education.
  • Master Teacher Program: The budget adds $1.5 million to fund an additional cohort of master teachers in schools with high rates of teacher turnover or inexperience.
  • We Teach NY Program: The budget provides $3 million to recruit and prepare a corps of 250 teacher candidates who are of color and would work in high-need subject areas.
  • Expands access to advanced coursework: $5.8 million will subsidize the cost of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams for students in poverty. The budget also includes $1.5 million to create advanced courses in school districts where there are few or no advanced courses.

Additional Resources

Governor Cuomo Announces Highlights of the FY 2020 State Budget (Governor of New York State)
Fiscal Year 2020 Enacted State Budget (New York State Division of the Budget)
2019-20 State Aid Projections (Governor of New York State)
Advocacy Update: Final State Budget Deal Reached (New York State School Boards Association)