Albany Round-up

January 24, 2013

NY Gov.'s education plans get lukewarm response



The budget proposal "continues the downward spiral in educational opportunities that Albany has forced on local schools," said the Alliance for Quality Education, whose membership includes parents, educators and community organizations.

"Last year the state added a 4 percent school aid increase and we still lost 5,000 teachers and other educators," AQE Executive Director Billy Easton said.

Some of Cuomo's proposals will have districts competing with each other for more funding.

If approved by the Legislature, the budget proposal would have districts vying for $25 million in grants for full-day, pre-kindergarten programs and $20 million to lengthen the school day or year by 25 percent. The governor also set aside $15 million in competitive grants for community schools that integrate social and health services and $11 million for annual stipends for high-performing math and science teachers. Those initiatives were all recommended by a statewide reform commission.

Advocates warned against pitting districts against each other for grants to fund programs that all children need.

"We understand that money is tight and the focus is on performance," said Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, "but the state has a constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding to schools."

"For some of the most financially challenged districts, these grants seem like unwinnable prizes," the New York State Council of School Superintendents said.

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