I’m writing with an update about the Senate Education Hearing on Foundation Aid to schools. Since the discussion broadly impacted all schools throughout New York State, members of our team attended the hearing to ensure a charter presence. 

Overview

The Senate Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Budget and Revenues hosted a series of roundtable discussions throughout the state on the components and disbursement of Foundation Aid. A public hearing took place on December 3rd, 2019 to formally end these discussions. 

Senator Shelley Mayer, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, led the hearing in partnership with Senator Brian Benjamin, Chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Revenues. Also in attendance were Senator Robert Jackson,  Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Senator Zellnor Myrie, Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator John C Liu, Senator James F Gaughran, and Senator Elizabeth O’C Little. Overall, 40 individuals traveled to the city to testify including elected officials, school leaders, leadership from local organizations, students and parents. 

During the hearing, it was asserted that the state currently owes $3.4 billion to our schools as a result of the underfunded foundation aid formula. 

 

Funding formula

There were several common areas of discussion throughout the meeting. Below are the common topics discussed:

  • Fully funding the original Foundation Aid Formula 
  • Fully funding the original Foundation Aid Formula and making adjustments based on issues identified post-funding 
  • Creating a new formula based on need 
  • Fully funding foundation aid over a two year time period, while assembling a task force dedicated to creating a new formula and maintaining its integrity 
  • Imposing a billionaire’s tax 
  • The use of outdated data in the current formula 
  • Tiered approach to re-structuring the formula
  • Adjusting our count to accommodate for undocumented children 
  • Adjusting the floor to accommodate the lowest level of poverty
  • Adjusting the local contributions weight 
  • Removal of floors and caps that currently block schools from receiving additional aid
  • Changing the state constitution to ensure equal funding for each child 
  • Proposal to pass legislation that bans foundation aid from being given to private schools
  • Resolving the lack of predictability currently facing school’s budgeting efforts
  • Eliminating charter funding 

 

Staying informed 

A recording of yesterday’s hearing has been uploaded to youtube. The video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtlqSILkNSc

The committee chose to host this series of roundtables and yesterday’s hearing to adopt a proactive approach to foundation aid funding for the 2020 state budget. They have heard testimony from across the state and are taking all proposals into consideration. If you wish to provide your testimony to the committee for their review, kindly email Senator Shelley Mayer at smayer@nysenate.gov.

 

We look forward to providing you with updates as they occur.