State education officials on Monday called for increasing spending for schools by $3.4 billion as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul prepare to negotiate the state budget in the coming weeks. 

The priorities outlined by the state Education Department's Board of Regents also include expanding pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds in New York by 2035 and 2030 as well as universal access to career and technical education programs. 

Schools in New York struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been flush with state and federal aid with much of the money meant to help curtail learning loss that resulted from the shutdown. 

"Our state's future hinges on access to high-quality education for every child beginning at pre-K, leading our students through successful learning pathways to careers, college, and lifelong learning opportunities," said Regents Chancellor Lester Young. "These results will only become a reality through targeted investments and a fundamental commitment to equity in state funding for our school districts most in need."

New York has also seen a sharp increase in state aid over the last year as a result of tax increases on upper income New Yorkers. It's expected another increase in aid will be included in the budget next year. A spending plan is expected to pass by the end of March. 

Much of the money being sought by the Board of Regents would go toward direct aid to school districts. 

"Supporting our schools is paramount to everything we do at the Department. When we began working with the Board to develop the State Aid and Legislative priorities, we consulted with the field to figure out the most pressing needs and our strategic goals," said Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. "With the input of our stakeholders, the State Aid and Legislative priorities have been carefully crafted to ensure all schools have the resources necessary to provide every student with the opportunities and support needed to succeed. We look forward to working with the executive and legislature to secure sufficient funding for all the important programs outlined in our State Aid and Legislative priorities.”