N.Y. Budget Increases School Aid for First Time in 3 Years
New York State lawmakers have adopted a fiscal 1994 budget that alters the school-finance formula and increases state support for public schools for the first time in three years.
The revised state-aid formula for the first time recognizes poverty as a qualifying factor for increased state aid to school districts. Consequently, more money will be channeled to areas with higher enrollments of poor students.
The share of state aid earmarked for New York City, for example, will increase from 34.8 percent to 35.1 percent.
Both rural schools and districts with large proportions of children with limited English proficiency will also get a greater share of state funds.
Because the total state-aid budget provides a $330 million increase for schools, only a handful of relatively wealthy districts are expected to lose money under the new formula.
Members of the education community hailed the legislature for supporting the finance reforms and providing the money to begin the process.
"The school-aid reform contained in the 1993-94 state budget ... is a first step, but one of historic proportions,'' said Carl T. Hayden, the chairman of the state-aid subcommittee of the state board of regents.
"While there is still a long way to go, the legislature has recognized the need for reform,'' Mr. Hayden said.
No 'Great Bonanza'
The New York State School Boards Association also expressed satisfaction that districts would not have to face another round of budget cuts, as Gov. Mario M. Cuomo had originally proposed.
After losing money in the past few years, "it's not like it's a great bonanza, but no district lost [direct] aid,'' said William J. Pape, a spokesman for the school boards group. "They took good steps towards reform.''
Late last year, the regents put forward a plan to simplify the state-aid formula by collapsing 53 program categories into three, including one for extraordinary needs to cover such factors as poverty. See Education Week, Nov. 25, 1992.)
Some of those ideas were incorporated into the legislature's design, although lawmakers did not go as far as the regents had proposed.
In January, the Governor also proposed revamping the school-finance formula.
At the same time, however, Mr. Cuomo sought to cut $130 million in
Governor Cuomo subsequently restored $78 million to his budget request, while offering modifications to the state-aid formula. In addition, improvement in the state's economic outlook enabled the legislature to increase the budget further.