Assembly would boost governor’s education aid

REPORTER FILE POTO | The Shelter Island School
REPORTER FILE POTO | The Shelter Island School

Following his critical assessment of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s school aid proposal for the 2016-17 school year, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) has laid out a number of initiatives he and his legislative colleagues believe would improve funding, particularly for East End schools.“More and more demands are being placed on local school districts to meet higher standards, while at the same time freezing property taxes,” Mr. Thiele said. “To achieve both of these goals, there must be adequate state support of education; the governor’s proposal fails to make the grade,” he said.

Among the changes the Assembly is recommending in the education budget are:

• Increasing aid to education by 9.2 percent over what was allocated for the current year by allocating $25.4 billion for the next school year.
• Increasing foundation aid, an average per pupil cost of general education instruction in successful districts, by $1.1 billion.

• Spending $434 million to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment that was put in place to make up for budget shortfalls during the recession that began in 2008.

The governor’s proposal recommended its elimination over a two-year period, not the single year allocation the Assembly wants.

• Allocating $10 million in grants to districts with growing populations of English language learners.

• More financial help to districts implementing full-day kindergarten classes.

• More money for career and technical education.

• Increased aid for various educational programs, including math, computer training, professional development of teachers and restoring the Smart Scholars Early College High School Program that enables students to earn college credits while still in high school.
SUNY funding would also increase if the Assembly gets its way, as would various other college-level funding.

For the fourth year, the Assembly is pushing to include the Dream Act to allow children of immigrants to apply for a variety of state tuition assistance programs.

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