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Education

School Districts In CNY, Statewide Ready For a "Year Of Recovery" After Voters Approve Budgets

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Budgets are in place for the next school year in districts in Central New York and across the state after voters approved 99% of them earlier this week. Bob Schneider is executive director of the New York State School Boards Association.

"We're ecstatic.  There's money now in the system.  We've got federal stimulus money.  We've got state aid.  We have the foundation aid money that's going to be coming through.  This is good news."

Districts are sharing $4 billion in federal stimulus funding, $3 billion in additional state aid, and an expected $1.4 billion in foundation aid over two years.  Now, he says it’s time to put that money to work. 

"We're in a financial resources era where we can really get back to normal and assist and develop all of our students, especially the ones who might be at risk or marginalized.  They deserve equity in a public education system, and this funding will allow our school districts and school  boards to do that."

Schneider says districts have also set aside money for mental health issues that might have resulted from, or made worse by the pandemic.

"We feel that resources have to be moved for assisting the students and the school districts, addressing those mental health issues.  That means we have to fund it with more guidance counselors, more psychologists, more professional development for teachers and other people in the building."

He says districts are also spending more money on computers, wi-fi hotspots, and related equipment for remote learning.  That’s not to mention extra costs for safety protocols and cleaning supplies at schools.  In all, each district spent an average of an additional $500,000 for the current school year.