Education Funding

Sarah Harris / NCPR

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it again and again, universal pre-kindergarten is a big priority. Last year, the legislature approved a $340 million program to increase public, full-day pre-K access. But only one school district in the North Country received the grant for pre-K funding.

Canton Elementary School principal Joe McDonough says pre-K isn’t just fun. It’s essential for kids’ development.

"People come to school even at the ripe old age of four with a variety of experiences and levels of knowledge and skills," McDonough said. 

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Teachers from the Finger Lakes traveled to Albany Friday to deliver 1,000 local apples to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The purpose was not to share in the bounty of the agricultural region, but to make a point about what they say is the governor’s lack of commitment to school spending.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Hundreds of teachers are rallied at the state Capitol late Monday, saying they are calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo for what they say is his anti-public school agenda.

The teachers, including New York State United Teachers Union Vice President Andy Pallotta, say Cuomo has declared a war on students, parents, and teachers, and is advancing a “test and punish” agenda.

“He has no respect for public education,” Pallotta shouted, as the crowd cheered.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York educators are galvanizing support as they oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education policy.

Cuomo is proposing sweeping education reforms as part of his 2015 budget. They include stricter teacher evaluations, tougher tenure rules and expansion of charter schools. In his State of the State message, he tied it all together with money.

"If the legislature passes these reforms, I propose a 4.8 percent increase in the budget. A $1.1 billion investment in education, because it will be the right education system," Cuomo said.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

With less than two months before the state budget is due, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and education groups remain at odds, with the state teacher’s union calling the fight a “war,” and Cuomo calling the teachers and their allies a bloated bureaucracy.

 New York State United Teachers, the state’s largest teachers union, uses military terms to describe the escalating argument with Cuomo. In a video, NYSUT President Karen Magee says it’s the governor who has declared war on the union and the entire profession of teaching.

Brad Flickinger / Flickr

New York's November ballot includes a proposal for the state to borrow $2 billion to spend on technology, like computer tablets, for school children. But a fiscal watchdog group says it’s not a good way to finance the purchase of iPads.

The bond act would give New York state permission to borrow money primarily to invest in new technology for students in elementary and secondary schools. It would also include money for building more classrooms for expanded pre-kindergarten.

The state Senate and Assembly are scheduled to begin conference committee meetings on Monday, now that both houses have finished with their resolutions laying out their positions. 

Sticking points include funding for charter schools. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans want to restore changes made by  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to three charter schools. The mayor says the schools can no longer  have rent-free space in existing public school buildings.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News

Assembly Democrats say there should be more money for schools and the environment, and major changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to freeze property taxes. It’s all part of a one-house budget resolution, the first step in reaching agreement on a final spending plan by the end of March.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at dueling rallies on education at the state Capitol, highlighting the two politicians’ differences over education issues.   

A rally to promote de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K had been planned for weeks. The mayor spoke to around 1,500 union members, urging them to put pressure on lawmakers to approve in the state budget the mayor’s plan to provide classes for thousands of four-year-olds starting in September.

The state budget deadline is approaching and education issues are taking center stage. Only one day before massive rallies for universal pre-K and charter schools, other advocates say they’ve gathered evidence for potentially another lawsuit for more state aid for schools.

The Alliance for Quality Education has been touring schools around the state to document what they say is the erosion of districts in economically depressed areas.

Katie Keier / Flickr

The funding crisis facing public education will be on display during forums held in the coming weeks across central New York. Lobbyists are hopeful that public support for school funding can have an impact on the state budget process in Albany.

Charles Borgongoni has been the head of the Central New York School Boards Association for three years. He says the fiscal troubles for schools just keep getting worse, with not much help in sight from the state.

knittymarie/flickr

Hundreds of school children, parents and union members held a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol to build momentum for more spending on schools in the state budget.

James F Clay / Flickr

Advocates for public education are calling for changes in education that will give every child in New York state access to high-quality public education. The message was made clear during a national Day of Action organized by unions, community groups and schools across the nation and New York yesterday.

Supporters of public education in central New York wore blue as part of the event, meant to reclaim the promise of public education. Among those asking for the state to make changes is Shelly Chizzonite, a counselor in the East Syracuse Minoa School District.

Taxes and tax reform are likely to be a major topic in the next legislative session, which begins in seven weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is relying on two separate commissions for ideas about tax changes, while progressive groups and Republicans in the State Senate are also weighing in.

A new report from the Brookings Institution argues that more resources for training workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) should be directed at non-degree education providers.

The need for more STEM grads is a familiar cry from industry leaders and politicians alike. But, this new report argues there’s a large potential workforce being ignored because STEM jobs are being too narrowly defined.

State lawmakers are hurrying toward getting a budget agreement in place, with a stepped-up schedule of conference committees and meetings with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But the governor is throwing cold water on striking a deal by the weekend.

New York state's largest teachers union has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s property tax cap, arguing it is unconstitutional.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Albany received an earful from hundreds of students, parents educators and community members Wednesday about recent cuts in funding for education. The "Educate New York Now Express" has been rolling across the state, picking up supporters and support for their plea to lawmakers to reinvest in public education.

In New York, arguments over fairness in the funding of public education have been heated for a while. In the current age of austerity, the issue is even more complex—and pressing.

In this week’s Campbell Conversation, Michael Rebell, the executive director of Columbia University’s Campaign for Educational Equity, and a co-counsel in the state’s Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, discusses educational equity—and all that it requires from the educational and social welfare systems.

On Tuesday, May 15, voters across New York state will vote on their local school district budgets, and the property tax levies needed to pay for them. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium about the effect this year's budget cycle will have on schools and the future of education funding in New York.

Republicans in the state Senate Tuesday night brought up a bill that would give $10 million in extra aid to schools.