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2014-15 state budget proposal

POSTED 1/27/2014
Gov. Cuomo delivers 2014-15 executive budget proposal
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal for next year the state’s investment in schools would increase by $807 million or 3.8 percent if approved by the state Legislature as outlined. The proposed increase includes funding that the governor has earmarked for the launch of several new education initiatives.

OESJ would see a 2.55 percent increase, or $329,475 more, in state aid under the governor’s proposal compared to last year. As a result of the merger, the district will also again next year receive more than $1.4 million in state merger incentive aid in addition to regular state aid.

One of the new initiatives highlighted by the governor was a proposed a $2 billion bond for a Smart Schools initiative to go before voters in November. If approved, the bond would give schools money for infrastructure improvements related to high-speed broadband access and classroom technology (e.g., Smartboards, tablets). Schools could also use the funds to construct new pre-kindergarten classrooms, if the funds allow or if they prefer. The state would distribute the funds to schools based on the existing state aid formula.

Should state voters approve the November referendum as proposed by the governor, OESJ would be eligible for nearly $2 million in Smart Schools funding.

Other new education initiatives in his proposal include:

·         Investing $720 million over a five-year period in afterschool programs. Districts would have to submit plans to the State Education Department for approval.

·         An $8 million SUNY/CUNY full-scholarship program for the top 10 percent of high school graduates. Eligible graduates must pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or math and work in New York State for five years following graduation from college.

·         A $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund that would allow teachers rated as “highly effective” to be eligible to receive rewards of up to $20,000 annually.

·         Officially eliminating standardized tests for students in grades K-2. Currently there are no state assessments in those grades.

The governor also proposed the phase-in of universal, full-day pre-kindergarten statewide. OESJ schools already has full-day prekindergarten at both of its elementary schools.

Remaining in his proposal is the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which was introduced in 2010 as a way for the state government to close its budget deficit. It did so by spreading the funding shortfall around to all school districts through a GEA reduction to the overall Foundation Aid due to schools. Despite New York’s anticipated surplus, the governor’s proposal calls for only a partial restoration ($323 million) of funds withheld from districts through the GEA. [For a more detailed explanation of the GEA click here to watch a short video]

As a result of the GEA in the governor’s proposed budget, OESJ is set to loss $329,000 next year.

The Executive Budget also proposes a two-year property tax freeze for homeowners residing in school districts that meet certain conditions. During the first year of the freeze, a district would have to pass a budget with a levy that stays within its property tax levy cap. During the second year, in addition to again staying within its cap, a district would have to agree to and implement a state-approved plan for shared services and consolidation.

Visit http://www.budget.ny.gov/ for more details on the governor’s budget.