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New York City
February2002

Patakiís Budget Would Cut $25M from City Schools
By Steven Sanders

Governor 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 possible.

Steven Sanders is Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. He can be reached at (212) 979-9696 or by e-mail at sanders@assembly.state.ny.us.

 

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.




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