Stimulus dollars are flowing into New York schools, but will it be enough?


President Donald Trump on Sunday signed the $ 900 billion pandemic relief package, which includes $ 5.8 billion for New York schools and universities and $ 465 million in daycare grants.

Schools and universities in the capital region are facing a difficult financial recovery, which will depend heavily on the measures of the federal government and the state budget 2021-22, which is expected to be passed in April 2021.

Colleges and universities have lost millions of dollars in room and board income and incurred new expenses related to the pandemic. The CARES law provided for some aid funds for universities, but these only covered a fraction of the losses.

The interim president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, Dr. Drew Bogner, in a statement, thanked the congressional delegation for including New York’s more than 100 nonprofit private colleges and universities in the Second Aid Act, which provides expanded access to Pell Scholarships that benefit their students and their families .

Bogner noted that the aid was still insufficient to stabilize these institutions and called on the state to expand study support programs such as TAP.

“While this federal stimulus package provides the necessary help, we urge our congress representatives to continue fighting for help to our state and local governments to cope with the significant financial burden caused by the pandemic,” said Bogner.

The CARES Act saw emergency aid worth $ 1.1 billion.

The state is facing a projected deficit of $ 15 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, the state budget department warned that without further federal aid it could be forced to withhold 20 percent of all state aid payments, including to public school districts.

The state has so far withheld cuts in school aid after parents and lawyers protested and filed lawsuits finding cuts disproportionately affect poor districts. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the state may need to raise taxes with additional funds from Washington, DC

A spokesman for the budget department said federal legislation is still under review but does not provide critical state and local funding needed to offset the state’s loss of revenue, which is said to amount to nearly $ 63 billion over four years.

“The state has funded almost 100% of school aid so far this year, but as we have been saying for months, the state cannot fully finance all state operations and local aid programs without federal aid,” said budget spokesman Freeman Kloppott. “Should we have to make cuts as a last resort, we will take into account the needs of the district and these federal funds.”

According to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and the Association of School, spending per student increased by an average of $ 219 this fall due to COVID-19-related expenses such as masks, cleaning supplies, and digital technologies by business officials New York (ASBO). School building reopening this year has cost the districts an average of $ 500,000, according to the report.

Local school districts cut hundreds of staff and teaching positions and scaled back personal learning programs in anticipation of potential aid cuts.

According to NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider, the second inflow of federal school district funding is “not all we hoped for,” but it’s a start.

“It is a lifeline for schools and students that will help us to provide state and local governments with more comprehensive federal aid,” Schneider said in a statement.

State Transitional Commissioner for Education Betty Rosa and the state Board of Regents have called for state education aid to remain at the level of funding for the years 2019-20 and that all new federal aid money be used to increase state aid funds ” to supplement and not to replace ”.

The Regents’ budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, which begins April 1, 2021, includes $ 28.4 billion in aid for schools. The number includes restoring the pandemic adjustment.

“We are focused on giving districts across the state the flexibility to educate and provide our children with the social and emotional support they need during these turbulent times as we continue to work to bridge and secure the digital divide that all students in every part of the state have access to quality education, “Rosa said in a statement.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said the union supported the Board of Regents’ proposal but renewed NYSUT’s call for a state property tax to provide additional relief to public schools.

“We will fight for additional federal aid, especially for state and local governments, alongside the New York delegation in early 2021,” Pallotta said in a statement. “Here in Albany, we continue to support the plea to the ultra-rich to give their fair share of state taxes in the coming legislative period. This two-pronged New Year approach is essential to prevent devastating cuts and restore funding to public schools and colleges that students and families have relied on during this pandemic. “


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