Budget Would Cut $25M from City Schools
Patakiís latest budget proposal for State aid to education occurred
almost on the one-year anniversary of Supreme Court Justice DeGrasseís
historic decision that declared the Stateís funding formula to
be both unconstitutional and inadequate to provide necessary education
resources to New York City.
The Governor could have taken the opportunity to propose a revamping
of State education aid or to propose additional funding to address
the critical shortages in resources for high need school districts.
The Governor did neither.
Instead, the Governor merely proposed block granting most of last
yearís aid into fewer aid categories and refused to provide any
increase in funding in the statewide aggregate total. For New
York City schools, the news is even worse.
The Governorís budget proposal for the coming fiscal year once
again shortchanges New York Cityís public schools, actually cutting
school aid by approximately $25 million. As chairman of the Education
Committee, working with the Speaker and my colleagues, I will
remain steadfast to restore these cuts and to fight for appropriate
funding for our students. We simply cannot go backwards, especially
with tougher academic standards and a more rigorous curriculum
at all grade levels.
Last year, the Assembly passed a budget resolution that contained
a landmark two-year plan to ensure that schools would have the
resources they need and the ability to plan for the future. It
would have increased State funding to our schools by $3.4 billion
over two years, and it would have given schools the ability to
do appropriate strategic planning for our childrenís education
that is just not feasible in a climate of perpetual uncertainty.
But the Governorís refusal to negotiate with the Legislature forced
the adoption of a budget in August that cut $1.1 billion from
what schools were scheduled to receive under present law.
Governor Patakiís latest proposal of State education aid in the
amount of $14.2 billion provides no additional resources to help
schools meet the demands of new academic standards or to address
problems from overcrowding to attracting and retaining qualified,
certified, quality teachers.
The Governorís education proposal also reneges promises to fund
critically needed early childhood programs contained in the Assemblyís
innovative and effective LADDER program. Since 1998, LADDER has
helped schools reduce class sizes, improve teacher training, establish
universal pre-kindergarten, provide full-day kindergarten programs
and modernize computer technology.
There are virtually no credible critics of the proposition that
reducing the size of classes, especially in the early grades,
has a profound effect on later educational growth and student
outcomes. His proposals also cut teacher salaries by $45 million,
Teacher Centers by $20 million and the Teacher Mentor program
by over $3 million, denying working teachers the opportunity to
improve their skills so that they can most effectively prepare
our children for the far more rigorous requirements established
by the Regents for graduation. These are valuable programs that
help recruit and retain teachers.
Finally, the Governor demonstrates little concern about taking
bold actions to improve the physical conditions of our schools
so that they can all be well-equipped with everything from well
lit auditoriums, to modern science labs, and modernized libraries.
I will fight hard to make sure that school districts, New York
City in particular, get adequate and equitable funding at a level
that can nurture excellence and give our children the best education
Sanders is Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. He can
be reached at (212) 979-9696 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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