Earlier this week, New York State approved a budget of $237 billion for the fiscal year 2025. Notably, the education sector received a substantial boost with $35.9 billion allocated for the upcoming school year, marking an increase of $1.4 billion from the previous year.

Key Highlights

  • Foundation Aid Increase: The main operating funding for school districts, Foundation Aid, saw a rise to $24.9 billion this year, up by $507 million from the last fiscal year. This increase includes additional funding for the State Education Department to undertake a study on modernizing the Foundation Aid formula.
  • Charter School Funding: The budget allocates $185 million for charter school supplemental tuition and an additional $120 million for charter school facilities aid (“rental assistance”, available to some, but not all schools in New York City).

Reactions from NYCSA

“We commend the governor for her support for public schools in this year’s budget,” stated NYCSA Executive Director Fatimah Barker. She emphasized the importance of the increase in aid, especially regarding public charter school tuition, and the dedicated funding for charter school facilities aid. 

However, Barker also expressed concerns about key exclusions for public charter schools. While the state budget includes $318 million for categories like transportation and building aid, public charter schools are notably absent from these allocations.

“It’s disheartening that public charter school students continue to face these funding disparities, particularly in building aid,” remarked Barker. She highlighted the impact of this inequity on public charter school students’ education and the challenges faced by schools simply looking for a decent building in which to educate students. 

She also noted the burden that will continue to be placed on families due to the lack of transportation aid for public charter school students.

“Children will continue to endure longer wait times at bus stops and on the bus, if they are lucky enough to receive any transportation at all,” Barker said. “Every public school student in New York State deserves trustworthy and reliable transportation to and from school every day. It should not be the exception; it should be an expectation.”

Absence of Bullet Aid for Rochester Charter Schools

Also not included in the budget approved by the state earlier this week was $2.1 million in bullet aid that members of the community were seeking for Rochester’s public charter schools. 

Rochester was the only area in the state where public charter schools are facing a loss in funding in 24-25 due to the calculations of the state’s charter funding formula, and NYCSA continues to explore avenues to support schools in the face of this unfair cut to funding.

Barker notes that “All districts across New York State- even those that were losing enrollment- were guaranteed an increase in funding for next school year, but public charter schools in Rochester lost out on this promise. This loss in funding, in no small part, points to the overly complicated charter funding mechanism that led legislators to conflate the elimination of “hold harmless” with a positive outcome for public charter school students alongside their traditional district school peers. This consequence is overtly damaging for schools and families throughout Rochester working to ensure the best education possible for their students.”

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