Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed his proposed budget Tuesday to fund New York state in 2013-14. The budget set new funding for full-day pre-kindergarten in high-need school districts, early college programs to help high school students accelerate, and extended day programs that he introduced in his State of the State address earlier this month. Locally, the Cuomo budget proposes $7,934,156 in overall state aid to Cazenovia Central Schools for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of $210,939 or 2.73 percent. Included in that total increase is a small restoration ($110,788) of the $1.51 million Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) the district has endured for four straight years now, and the rest of the aid increase comes in a variety of categories. Even with the small GEA increase, the district will still sustain a $1.4 million loss in aid next year due to the continuation of the GEA in 2013-14. The state initiated the GEA four years ago to help eliminate the state’s large budget deficit, taking away aid for schools and putting the burden on local property taxpayers. The district has lost more than $4.43 million in education aid over that time due to the GEA, (a figure that would grow to $5.8 million under the governor’s proposal), and faces a budget gap of approximately $600,000 as it prepares next year’s spending plan. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his budget address to issue a teacher evaluations ultimatum heard around the state. This year, Cuomo is once again tethering districts’ increases in school aid to having new teacher evaluation systems on the books. He also announced he would reward some of the state’s highest-rated teachers and require all teachers to clear a new hurdle, a “bar exam,” before being certified to work in New York state. Summary of Cuomo’s proposed budget as it relates to education The 2013-14 Executive Budget reflects a continued commitment to supporting improved student outcomes, sustainable cost growth and equitable distribution of aid. It builds on the foundational work of prior years, and begins the implementation of key recommendations of the New NY Education Reform Commission. The total year-to-year increase in aid for education is $889 million, or 4.4 percent.
- Full-Day Pre-kindergarten Program: The Executive Budget provides $25 million to support a full-day pre-kindergarten program targeted toward higher need students in lower wealth school districts via a competitive process.
- Extended Learning Time: In order to provide increased learning opportunities, $20 million will be prioritized to support high-quality extended school day or extended school year programs, with academically enriched programming. Schools that apply to participate in the program must agree to expand learning time by 25 percent. The grant will cover the full cost of expanding learning time for students.
- Community Schools: The Executive Budget supports an innovative program designed to transform schools into community hubs that integrate social, health and other services, as well as after-school programming to support students and their families.
- Reward High-Performing Teachers: The Executive Budget provides $11 million to offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers, beginning with math and science teachers.
- Early College High School Programs: The Executive Budget provides $4 million in new state funding, bringing the state’s total investment in Early College High School programs to $6 million, to improve college access and success.
- Bar Exam for Teachers: To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting.
- Target School Aid Increases to High-Need School Districts: The Executive Budget provides a $611 million increase in school aid. High-need school districts will receive 75 percent of the 2013-14 allocated increase and 69 percent of total school aid. The aid includes $272 million for general support, $289 million for increased reimbursement in expense-based aid programs, and $50 million for a new round of competitive grants.
- Provide Fiscal Stabilization Funding for School Districts in the 2013-14 School Year: In recognition of extraordinary increases in fixed costs, including pension contributions, the Executive Budget provides $203 million in one-time financial relief to school districts.
- Maintain the Commitment to Teacher Evaluation Reform: The Executive Budget will continue to link increases in state aid to compliance with the teacher evaluation system to ensure implementation and accountability for improving student performance. School districts will not be eligible for aid increases unless they have fully implemented the teacher evaluation process for the 2013-14 school year by Sept. 1, 2013.