In the budget, the Governor proposed an increase of $826 million in total education funding, with an estimated $704 million going towards Foundation Aid. Assemblyman Nader Sayegh pointed out that this figure still amounts to 17% less than what is in the current 2020 budget. This would bring total education expenditures from New York State to $28.5 billion. In the proposal, the Governor outlined an initiative where school districts in New York State would be required to prioritize funding to schools that the state deems to be underfunded rather than the assessment made by a school district.
“The idea that the proposed education funding in the Executive Budget is sufficient is beyond belief,” said Assemblyman Sayegh. “An increase of three percent isn’t sufficient for the exceedingly high costs that high-need school districts like Yonkers Public Schools currently face.”
Assemblyman Sayegh also questioned a plan which would allow the state to determine which schools in qualifying school districts would be awarded additional need-based aid.
“This is a classic example of overreach,” said Assemblyman Sayegh. “School districts interact with their schools, educators, and students every single day. They know their needs much better than Albany does. School district autonomy is a hallmark of our public education system, we should keep it that way.”
Assemblyman Sayegh encouraged his colleagues to change the entire state school funding formula which is outdated and allows for inequity in funding to many school districts across the state.
“The current formula places too much emphasis on the wealth of the county in which the district is located. Often, a district like Yonkers is located in an affluent county like Westchester County and is shortchanged despite having a student population where nearly 80% of students are recipients of free or reduced-price lunch. Where is the correlation when the wealth of a district is contrary to the wealth of a county?” said Sayegh.
The proposed legislation that Assemblyman Sayegh has introduced will focus on enhancing funding for school districts that meet five criteria relating to 1) Student Enrollment, 2) percentage of special education students, 3) Percentage of English Language Learners, 4) Wealth of the county, and 5) The Percentage of Students who are recipients of Free and Reduced Lunch. This legislation is in line with the Governor’s goal for a full revision of the funding process, therefore promoting equity.
In addition, the Sayegh Bill (A.8700) has a Harmless Clause which will ensure that districts will not be negatively impacted by any changes in the formulation of aid. This legislation ensures that districts across New York State which are underfunded will now be put on equal footing with comparable districts across the state.
Assemblyman Sayegh appreciates the Governor’s recognition of bringing equity to the educational playing field and supports efforts to encourage the state to give districts owed Foundation Aid and their students the foundation aid their students desperately need and require to provide their students with a quality education.
“Our school districts already stretch every dollar as far as they can,” said Assemblyman Sayegh. “It’s unreasonable to subject them to the annual rollercoaster of guessing how much funding they might receive for the next fiscal year. Until the New York State Legislature is fully committed to meeting our current funding obligations and revamping the underlying inequitable formula, we owe them some consistency.”
Assemblyman Nader Sayegh is an attorney and retired educator with over 40 years of experience. Before his election to the New York State Assembly, he served as a teacher, principal, President of Yonkers Public Schools Board of Trustees, and President of the Conference of Big Five School Districts.
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Constituents are encouraged to contact the District Office of Assemblyman Nader Sayegh located at 35 East Grassy Sprain Road, Suite 406B in Yonkers, to call 914-779-8805, or direct email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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SOURCE: Roberto Williams | Director of Communications | Assemblyman Nader J. Sayegh, 90th Assembly District