Schools in New York could receive yet another major increase in direct funding this year as Gov. Kathy Hochul signals she wants to increase spending by $2.7 billion in the coming state budget.
If given final approval by state lawmakers in the budget expected to pass at the end of March, the increase would mean a 13% rise in a direct line of funding known as Foundation Aid.
"Gov. Hochul's historic commitment to invest in our public schools is a huge step forward and is exactly what our state needs," said Andy Pallotta, the president of the New York State United Teachers, the statewide umbrella labor group. "Fully funded Foundation Aid will dramatically improve the lives of students, educators and families across New York."
It's the second year Hochul has backed an increase in Foundation Aid, reaching a level that's been long sought by progressive education advocates in New York as well as the state's teachers union.
The funding increases have also staved off what has previously been protracted funding battles in the state budget between governors and education advocates in the state. That could change if the economy slips into a recession and tax revenue dries up.
Schools have also struggled in the years since the start of the pandemic.
Learning loss for students has led to complications for many students who had difficulty with distance learning. Schools are also struggling with a shortage of personnel like bus drivers and an increase in the need to address mental health concerns.
“Foundation Aid increases will help schools accommodate inflationary pressures, meet hiring shortages, and sustain program improvements begun with temporary federal aid," said Charles Dedrick, the executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
Much of the aid has been enabled by an increase in tax rates on the richest New Yorkers, and some Democratic lawmakers are calling for more increases this year. Hochul has said she opposes new tax increases in the budget this year, citing concerns about a potential recession.
More specifics of how Hochul wants to tackle education spending in the budget this year will be clear when she unveils her proposal for spending in the coming weeks.