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The following is a summary of major provisions enacted in the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2008-09 budget. Additional memos will follow on various topics as briefings take place and additional research is finalized.

Overview

The 2008-2009 enacted education budget increases funding for public education by $1.75 billion (8.9% increase), resulting in total school aid of $21.4 billion.

School Aid or Formula Based Aids:

  • Foundation Aid: Foundation aid, which targets funding to high-needs districts based on district wealth and student need, results in total funding of $14.9 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion (8.8%).
  • Hold Harmless Factor: The Executive and the Legislature agree to maintain the hold harmless factor to 3% over the Foundation Aid Base.
  • Maximum Increase: The enacted budget reduces the maximum increase resulting from the Foundation Aid from 25% to 15%.
  • Phase-In Factor: The Foundation Aid was established as a four year phased-in program. The enacted budget modifies the phase-in by decreasing the second year phase-in from 42.5% of planned increases to 37.5%.
  • NYC School Aid: The enacted budget provides $8.33 billion in school aid to New York City, an increase of $644 million (8.4%). Of this amount, $6.2 billion is Foundation Aid.
  • Big Four School Districts Specific Initiatives (Syracuse, Rochester, Yonkers and Buffalo):
  • School Health Services Grants: The Executive and Legislature agree to appropriate $9.68 million [$13.84 million school year] for school health service grants
  • Community Schools Pilot Program: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $2.8 million for a pilot program located in the Rochester City School District.
  • Higher Education Demonstration Program in Syracuse: The enacted budget rejects the Executive proposal to guarantee payment of tuition and fees at the State University of New York or the City University of New York for any student in the Syracuse school district who graduates in 2008-09 or thereafter who met the Regents' English language arts and mathematics standards in both seventh and eighth grades.
  • Supplemental Educational Improvement Plan Grant: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $12.25 million the Yonkers City School District for services and expenses incurred by the school district to implement its education improvement plan.
  • Fiscal Stabilization Grants: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $28,015,000 for fiscal stabilization grants for eight school districts across the state. This represents a 2% reduction from the Executive proposal. Specifically, $1,449,000 million is proposed for the Rochester City School District, $1,174,000 million for the Buffalo City School District and $24,172,000 for New York City
  • High Tax Aid: The Executive and Legislature agree to appropriate $202 million for High Tax Aid. High tax aid is used to ease burdens for communities which are highly taxed, but for which have comparatively lower wealth than their neighboring districts. This is an increase of $101 over the Executive proposed budget. In addition, "hold harmless" was established in the High Tax aid to ensure that districts that received the aid last year will receive at least 50% of such aid in 2008-09.
  • Supplemental Valuation Impact Grants: The enacted budget appropriates $3.8 million in additional funding for school districts which have experienced a significant financial hardship caused by extraordinary changes in the taxable property valuation or extraordinary changes in the tax certiorari proceedings.
    1. Barker Central School District: $1,300,000
    2. Haverstraw-Stony Point Central School District: $2,500.000
  • SURR Schools: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $1,866,200 to support schools under registration review. This represents a 2% reduction from the Executive's proposal.
  • Pre-Kindergarten: The Executive and Legislature agree to appropriate $451 million for Universal Pre-Kindergarten. This represents a $96 million increase compared to projected spending in 2007-08. These funds will support 120,000 4-year old in attending preschool, an increase of over 27,000.
  • Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES): The Executive and Legislature reject the proposed changes to the BOCES aid formula.  BOCES funding within the enacted budget total $672 million, an increase of $49 million (7.8%) over 2007-08.
  • Transportation Aid: The enacted budget includes an additional $15 million in transportation aid over the Executive's proposal. Total funding in 2008-2009 would total more than $1.67 billion. Funding reimburses for the cost of transporting approximately 2.3 million students statewide.

Contract for Excellence:

Large Foundation Aid increases (10% or 15 million) in those districts with struggling schools will continue to be tied to Contracts for Excellence, which seeks to ensure that these resources are spent on strategies proven to improve academic achievement.

School districts must have a school in need of an improvement for two consecutive years in order to be subject to a Contract for Excellence based on the enacted budget. Formerly, districts only needed to have a school in need of improvement for one year in order to be considered a Contract district.

This changed reduced the number of districts identified as having to satisfy the Contract for Excellence by 40 districts, resulting in 55 districts requiring a Contract.

The enacted budget also provides for additional flexibilities in the use of these additional resources:

  • First 4% (up from 3%) of the foundation aid increase may be used for general expenses.
  • Depending on the school district's identification status, flexibility over how they might use funds to continue existing programs is granted.
  • The number of allowable programs and activities was extended to include, academic after-school programs and proven programs for English Language Learners.

Capital Construction:

  • Building Aid: Aidable building expenses are for capital outlay, leases, certain capital outlay exceptions, certain refinancing costs and an assumed debt service payment based on the useful life of the project and an average interest rate. The enacted budget rejects the elimination of a select number of building aid ratios.
  • EXCEL Building Aid: The enacted budget appropriates a total increase of $200 million over 2007-08 state fiscal year to support projects which reduce overcrowding in classrooms, improve energy efficiency and projects relating to health and safety.
  • NYC Building Aid: The enacted budget rejects the Executive's recommendation to establish an 18 month lag in New York City building aid payments.
  • Wicks Law: The Executive and the Legislature agree to reform the Wick's Law by raising school district and all municipal construction project thresholds. The thresholds will be increased to $3 million in New York City, $1.5 million in the downstate suburbs, and $500,000 Upstate. This will mean a 60-fold increase in the current threshold in NYC, a 30-fold increase in downstate suburbs, and 10-fold increase for Upstate.

    Contracting entities will be able to avoid the Wicks Law requirements through use of project labor agreements. At the same time, subcontractor protections will also be strengthened to ensure that employees on public works projects are treated fairly and that the original intent of the bill — to protect subcontractors from bidding fraud — remains intact.

    It is anticipated that these changes will exempt more than 70% of public works projects from Wicks mandates and provide real savings for schools, local governments and other public entities. For New York City, this will reduce the City's long term capital construction costs by more than $200 million in its upcoming City Fiscal Year (CFY) 2009 Capital Plan, and will carry annual debt service savings of $14 million by CFY 2012.

Special Education:

  • Taskforce on Preschool Special Education: The enacted budget rejects the Executive's proposal to shift $42 million in preschool special education evaluation costs to school districts.
  • Special Education: The enacted budget partially restored the supplemental excess cost aid by establishing a 15% save harmless provision, resulting in $22 million in restoration. High cost excess aid and private excess aid is maintained at present law levels.
  • Summer School Special Education: The enacted budget accepts the Executive's recommendation to continue to provide $243 million to support the 70% state share of the program costs.
  • State-Supported Private Schools for the Blind and Deaf: The Executive and Legislature agree to appropriate $123 million, representing an increase of $4.7 million. Included in this funding is $7 million to cover debt service for capital construction. Approximately 1,600 students attend 11 private schools for the blind and deaf.

Charter Schools:

  • Technical Assistance and Start-up Grants: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $5,880,000 million for technical assistance and start-up grants for Charter Schools, including $2,107,000 for administrative and technical support services provided by the Charter School Institute of the State University of New York. This represents a reduction of 2% from the Executive's proposal.

Educational Support Programs:

  • Extended Day/School Violence: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $29,596,000 for extended day programs. This represents a reduction of 2% from the Executive's proposal.
  • 21st Century Learning Centers: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $9.8 million supplement the Federal funding for the 21st Century Learning Centers programs, which provide academic enrichment outside the regular school hours to high-poverty and low-performing schools. This represents a reduction of 2% from the Executive's proposal.
  • Transferring Success: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $314,900 for the Transferring Success program. This is an additional $189,000 over the Senate's on-house proposal, but only a 50% restoration from the Executive's cuts.
  • Just for Kids Network Project: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $275,000 to continue the Just for Kids New York Project, which is a partnership between the University at Albany School of Education, the NYS Business Council and private companies. The project is designed to standardize and disseminate school achievement data and best practices so that schools may identify opportunities for improvement by modeling successful practices of high performing schools.
  • School Lunch and Breakfast Program: The enacted budget appropriates $31 million to supplement Federal support for the provision of free and reduced-priced meals to low-income students. This represents a 2% reduction from the Executive's proposal. The program serves approximately 1.7 million school lunches and 500,000 school breakfasts daily.
  • Healthy Schools: The Legislature rejects the Executive's proposal to provide $5 million in State funds to change the state's subsidy for school meals. In addition, the Legislature rejects the Executive's recommendation to have the Department of Education in consultation with the Department of Health establish nutritional and dietary guideless for food and beverages sold, served or offered in elementary and secondary schools. Finally, the Legislature rejects the Executive's recommendation to mandate the establishment of a school breakfast program in all middle and high schools that participate in the Federal School Lunch Program.
  • Summer Food Program: The Executive Budget continues $3.3 million in State funds to supplement Federal support for provisions of free and reduced-priced meals to low-income students. There are more than 280 sponsors of summer programs serving almost 325,000 students.
  • Physical Education Report: The enacted budget rejects Article VII language to require the State Education Department to conduct and report on an assessment of the physical education and nutrition instruction provided in schools throughout the state.
  • School Resource Officers: The enacted budget rejects the removal of 92 State Troopers from more than 100 school districts across New York State.

School Leaders & Teacher Assistance Initiatives

  • Teacher Mentor Intern Programs: The Legislature agreed with the Executive's recommendation to appropriate $7 million for the teacher mentor intern program [$10 million for the 2008-2009 school year].
  • Teacher Resource and Computer Training Centers: The Legislature agreed to the Executive's recommendation to appropriate $28 million [$40 million in the 2008-09 school year] for teacher resources and computer training centers program.
  • Task Force on School Leadership: The Legislature agreed to the Executive's recommendation to establish a Task Force on School Leadership. The Task Force will evaluate the process through which school leaders and supervisors develop. The Task force will be responsible for recommending new programs and services to ensure that leaders are prepared for the challenges of educating students. In addition, the State Education Department will develop accountability measures for school leaders by January 1, 2009. The Executive budget provides $250,000 for a "leadership development imitative" pursuant to a plan developed by the Commissioner and approved by the Division of Budget.
  • Teacher Tenure: The enacted budget amends Section 3012-b of the education law as created in chapter 57 of the laws of 2007 in relation to teacher tenure determinations. The amendments enacted in the 2008-09 budget specifically prohibits student performance data to be used to grant or deny teacher tenure. This provision will sunset on July 21, 2010.
  • School Leadership Report Card: The enacted budget continues its support of school leadership report cards. The enacted budget includes language to require the Commissioner of Education to develop standards of excellence for the purpose of evaluating the performance of school leaders, including superintendents of schools and building principles by January 1, 2009 that shall include parent involvement, curriculum, teacher quality, and accountability measures.
  • Background Checks: The enacted budget provides $1.2 million to the Department of Education to enhance their ability to conduct criminal history background checks and process fingerprints of prospective employees of school districts, charter schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).
  • Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability: The enacted budget rejects the Executive's proposal to reduce OSPRA budget by $500,000. In addition, the enacted budget appropriates and additional $600,000 to the office.

Math and Science Initiatives:

  • Math and Science Initiatives: The Legislation accepts the Executive's recommendation to appropriate $7 million [$10 million in the school year] for the following two programs, of which $2 million will be expanded to pre-engineering and advanced hands-on technical learning opportunities, such as robotics.
  • Excelsior Scholars Program: Each year the Commissioner of Education will certify up to 3000 high performing seventh grade students as Excelsior Scholars in math and science. During the summer, Excelsior Scholars will be eligible to enroll in advanced courses offered by public and independent colleges. Funding for summer programs will be awarded on a competitive basis to public and independent colleges.
  • Summer Institutes for Math and Science Teachers: Competitive grants will be made available to public and independent colleges, in partnership with a school district, to conduct summer institutes for teachers of science and math in grades five through eight. A priority will be given to teachers in schools in need of improvement or in corrective action or restructuring states.
  • Teachers for Tomorrow: The Legislature accepts the Executive's recommendation to appropriate $17.5 million [25 million in the school year] for funding for the Teachers of Tomorrow program. Of that amount, $5 million [school year] must be made available for a program to be developed by the Commissioner of Education to attract qualified teachers that have received or will receive a transitional certificate and agree to teach math or science in a low performing school. Of the $5 million, a total of up to 500,000 shall be made available for demonstration programs in Yonkers and Syracuse city school districts to increase the number of teachers who teach math, science and related areas who have such transitional certification.
  • STEP/CSTEP: The Executive and Legislature agree to appropriate $19 million for STEP/CSTEP. This represents a restoration of the 2% program cut.
  • Math and Science High Schools: The executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $1,470,000 for math and science high schools. This represents a 2% reduction from the Executive's proposal.

Literacy & Cultural Education Initiatives:

  • Bilingual Education/English Language Learners: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $9,450,000 for Bilingual Education grants. This represents $1.4 million in new funds. These funds support programs which include technical assistance centers, two-way Bilingual classrooms, and intensive Bilingual teacher training and leadership programs. The increase will provide school districts with incentive funds to implement model programs with demonstrated effectiveness.
  • Office of Diversity Education Equity (SUNY): The Executive and Legislature agrees to appropriate $500,000 to develop and disseminate model programs proven to be effective in meeting the educational needs of English Language Learners.
  • Adult Literacy Education Program (ALE): The Executive and the Legislature agreed to appropriate $7,219,000 for the Adult Literacy Education Program. This represents a 2% reduction to the base appropriation, a restoration of the Executive's proposed $1 million reduction and an additional $1 million in new funds.
  • Employee Preparation Program (EPE): The Executive Budget continues $96 million for school districts to support adult employee preparation programs.
  • Consortium for Worker Education (CWE): The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate 13,000,000 for the Consortium for Worker Education. This represents an addition of $1,500,000 over the Executive's proposal. These funds are a result of a reduction of equal parts of the Employee Preparation Program.
  • Supplementary State Aid for Public Libraries: The Executive and the Legislature agreed to restore the $5 million cut by the Executive's proposed budget
  • Workplace Literacy Program: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $2,004,000. This represents a 2% reduction to the Executive's proposed budget and additional $327,500 in restorations.
  • Literacy and Basic Education for Public Assistance Recipients: The Executive and the Legislature agree to appropriate $1,960,000 for this program. This represents a 2% reduction from the Executive's proposal.

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