As school districts continue to recover from the academic and social emotional impact of the pandemic, New York legislators will be under pressure to address several issues facing schools during the new legislative session.
Inflation has driven up the cost of completing the long-awaited process of fully funding foundation aid, the state’s primary school aid scheme. are worried about whether lawmakers will live up to their promises to complete funding for the official.
Defenders also say it will push for solutions to more pressing issues amid the pandemic, such as recruitment challenges and student mental health, but it has been for years that states will raise the cap on charter schools. Some keep pushing.
Here are some of the education issues that may come up in the new Congress due to start Wednesday.
Inflation puts pressure on school funding costs
Last year, state legislators pledged to spend billions more to fully fund foundation aid, which is the bulk of the financial support school districts receive from the state. They agreed to fund the prescription over a three-year period, with a final phase-in scheduled for fiscal 2023-24.
However, high inflation has pushed the expected cost of the eventual phase-in of funds to around $2.7 billion from an increase of $1.9 billion.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who agreed to fulfill last year’s ceremony as part of a legal settlement, declined to say whether this final large payment would be included in next year’s budget. However, I have yet to hear of him breaking Hochul’s promise.
Senator John Liu, a Queens Democrat who oversees the Senate’s New York City Board of Education, said: “It should also be a voluntary duty of the governor.”
Separately, state policymakers are asking for $1 million to hire researchers to review and create models to update the 15-year-old foundation aid scheme. State officials and advocates believe that the formula contains outdated measures, such as the student poverty calculation, which is now partly based on his 2000 Census data. needs to be updated.
Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said:
Will Ho Chul try to raise the cap on charter schools?
One question is whether the governor will be willing to raise the cap on the number of charter schools that can be opened in New York. After being silent on the issue during the course of the campaign, Ho-chul said she supported lifting the cap when asked about it during the gubernatorial debate with Republican opponent Lee Zeldin. rice field.
Under the cap, 460 charter schools are allowed to operate in New York, including 290 in New York City, which was achieved in 2019. But the big picture is more complicated. Nearly 60% of his individual charter schools are reducing their enrollment numbers during the pandemic.
Ho-chul’s office did not say whether she would push for a higher limit this year. Some Charter supporters, who have pushed for it over the years, want her to do so.
In a post-election statement, James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center, said the organization looked forward to “supporting her efforts to raise the cap.”
Hochul’s campaign received at least $70,000 in campaign contributions through two charter-supporting political action committees. But he had received more than $186,000 from city, state and national teacher unions opposing the expansion of charter schools.
Liu said she didn’t expect her to touch on the issue and simply answered “yes” to a debate question about whether she supported lifting the caps, which is a positive way to address the issue. It is different from pursuing intentionally.
Even if she did, it’s unlikely that she would get significant support in Congress, as the issue hasn’t received much attention in recent years.
Schools continue to struggle with recruitment and student mental health
Some advocates want a solution to the employment challenges facing many schools.
Bob Lowry, deputy director of advocacy and communications for the state council of school superintendents, said it was one of the biggest issues school leaders reported to his organization during the pandemic. The issue was raised in a recent state legislative hearing and has plagued districts nationally as well.
“School districts are saying, ‘We want to hire more mental health professionals to help us, but we can’t find one,'” says Lowry.
Lawmakers have proposed tax incentives for school workers as one way to attract people to school districts, NY1 reported. Lowry said the state’s education department had taken “helpful steps” already in place, including ending the controversial edTPA certification exam, which was previously required to teach candidates in New York. pointed out. Separately, Hochul succeeded in proposing an increase in the ceiling that retired school workers could get without losing their pension if they returned to school, but Mr Lowry said the law would only take effect this year. said it was.
“This is a big problem — [we’re] I’m not entirely sure what to do, but continuing the exemption for retirees to work without losing their pension benefits seems like a simple and direct step to take,” Lowry said. I was.
School leaders continue to report significant challenges in addressing student mental health and want more targeted funding to address these concerns, Rowley said.
Federal relief funds may have helped the district address some of these issues, but these funds will be phased out next year. Increasing Foundation Aid may also help. Last year’s budget included $100 million in his two years available to school districts as grants to address mental health issues in schools. State officials plan to award these funds through a competitive process starting this year, according to a state education department spokeswoman.
“I don’t think mental health issues will diminish any time soon,” Lowry said. “We believe there will be a need for targeted and ongoing funding in schools to support mental health issues.”
State seeks to compare New York City mayoral control to other districts
In the last Congress, the legislature extended New York City’s mayoral school management system (a system in which the mayor effectively controls policy-making rather than the school board) for another two years.
This year, legislators began examining how other school governance systems across the country operate, calling it a “20-year [mayoral] Consider how best to manage your New York City experience and move your school forward. “
Liu declined to give details, including whether there will be public hearings or any form of formal review. It shows that legislators are interested in potential changes to the city’s governance system when it must.
This year, their decision to extend mayoral powers by two years was half of what Mayors Eric Adams and Ho-chul had requested, with minor tweaks intended to add more parental representation to the system. was broken.
“This year, we have a little more leeway,” Liu said.
Reema Amine is a New York City school reporter with a focus on state policy and English learners. Please contact her Reema at Ramin@chalkbeat.org.