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CNY School Districts Prepare For "Transformational" Amount of State Aid From New Budget

WAER file photo

Central New York School Districts are expecting a significant increase in funding after State Lawmakers struck a deal to include a record amount of school aid in the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget.

Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Jasmine Gripper says this deal is a monumental change for local public schools.

“We really want districts to take the time to talk to parents, talk to students and educators about how we want to transform our districts. This is a moment where we can really transform education with these resources, to have the modern schools that we need.”

State legislators agreed to give public schools $29.5 billion of funding this year, an increase of $3 billion. The deal also includes gradual increases in funding for the next three school years. Gripper says money will benefit poorer districts.

“The school board has this one-shot money to put to good use: to fund costs that they have for updating buildings, for updating and buying technology, and also for providing social and emotional support for learning.”

Funding will also allow schools to enhance their academic, extra-curricular, and athletics programs. Gripper says that should help rural and inner-city districts plan how to improve student outcomes.

“Districts are required to show how they are going to reduce class sizes. They are required to produce plans on how they want to improve graduation rates. We will start seeing concrete plans from school districts sent to the state education department on how they will make these improvements.”

Starting in a few months, public schools will receive the additional funding from the state on top of the money from last month’s federal stimulus package. In the past, wealthier districts traditionally received more funding, which Gripper says is why they have higher graduation rates than underserved communities. Legislative  leaders say the goal behind the additional funding is to close the education gap. Gripper calls this a starting point in improving education across the state.  

“This is historic in the dollar amount, but it also will be historic in how we see education shift in the years to come, and how we see outcomes that begin to improve as a result of this investment.”

Gripper says parents can also expect more slots for full-day universal Pre-K, smaller class sizes with the hiring of more teachers, and the addition of more guidance counselors.