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NYSCOSS Discusses Superintendents’ Perspectives on School Funding

Posted Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:17 PM

What’s the NYS Council of School Superintendents’ take on what’s needed for school funding?  A sustainability agenda is of paramount importance, according to Bob Lowry, NYSCOSS Deputy Director. In a recent presentation to the school superintendents from Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, he cited four factors that must be addressed:

  1. State Aid – update and phase-in Foundation Aid, give districts more predictability in aid
  2. Tax Cap – amend to support multi-year planning
  3. Mandate Relief – “maximizing resources” to benefit students
  4. Reserves – give schools tools like those available to municipalities

While education has fared better than most budget areas in recent years, still no more than one-third of all school superintendents across New York State have ever reported that their district’s financial conditions have improved, he told the group.

While 20% of respondents in a recent NYSCOSS survey felt optimistic about their district’s financial prospects, 53% felt somewhat pessimistic and 19% felt very pessimistic.

Their biggest concerns were inadequate state aid (91%), the tax cap (89%), increasing needs of students because of increasing poverty, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities (78%), and expected increases in fixed or hard-to-control expenses such as pensions and health insurance (76%).

The Educational Conference Board, composed of key educational organizations at the state level, has stated that a $2 billion aid increase is needed for education in 2017-18, with $1.4 billion in Foundation Aid alone just for schools to open their doors in the Fall. Thus, the Governor’s proposal in the Executive Budget for only half that amount ($961 million) in overall aid increase, with just $378 million of that for basic Foundation Aid, falls far short of meeting the goal. There also is consternation over the Governor’s proposed changes to Foundation Aid, which would eliminate a phase-in of full aid, and leave no fixed target or basis for determining future aid, he said. Complete details of Mr. Lowry’s presentation on Foundation Aid and other budget issues are here. The program was organized by the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association to bring Albany insights and statewide perspectives to superintendents in our region.

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