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Education officials back $2.1B spending hike – Spectrum News

The top officials at the State Education Department are backing more than $1 billion in direct aid to schools, as well as millions of dollars more in spending for transportation costs, special needs programs and help for students to access new technology. 

The proposal by the Board of Regents comes as the state budget season is about to get underway in the coming weeks. Education and school spending typically make up the costliest item in the spending plan, second only to health care. 

At the same time, schools continue to face the headwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty created by the ongoing public health crisis. 

“This year’s State Aid and legislative agenda doubles down on our efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive education system to better support New York’s diverse student population and deliver an enhanced customer service approach at the State Education Department,” Chancellor Lester Young, Jr. said. “We will push for support of the priorities outlined in our request including the full phase in of Foundation Aid.”

State lawmakers last year approved the first bump in the three-year plan to increase school aid as has been called for by progressive advocates more than a decade in New York. 

The move was cheered by education advocates in the state who have long called for a boost in direct aid to school districts in New York as the state is expected to continue its second year of a three-year phased in hike in support. 

The Board of Regents proposal called for the $1.5 billion in direct support, along with $463.9 million to reimburse expenses for programs like building and transportation. Education officials also want $66.8 million to boost programs like BOCES and social service aids, along with $16.2 million to help “shrink the digital divide.” 

The package of proposals is non binding, but gives a road map of sorts for state lawmakers and the governor when negotiating the state budget, expected to pass at the end of March. 

But the Alliance for Quality Education, a prominent advocacy group, raised concerns with the proposal from the Board of Regents for not including additional funding for a continued expansion of pre-Kindergareten programs outside of New York City. 

“We look forward to working in partnership with the New York State Board of Regents to urge the Governor and legislature to include these strategic investments in education in the upcoming state budget,” the group said. 

Source: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/ny-state-of-politics/2021/12/14/education-officials-back–2-1b-spending-hike-for-new-york-schools

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