2017-18 Enacted Budget Analysis
The 2017-18 school year enacted budget was finalized April 9. The Legislature had enacted a budget extender the week before to continue state operations through the end of May in the absence of a budget, including payments to school districts for 2016-17 aid.
NYSASBO and other educational associations argued steadily that the State should enact the budget so school districts would have the benefit of knowing final school aid numbers in time to include them in their budgets to be voted on May 16.
Building Aid including Reorganization Incentive
BOCES and Special Services Aids
Special Education Aids
Universal Pre-Kindergarten Grant
General Support for Public Schools Total
The budget increases Education Aid by $1.1 billion, including a $700 million increase in Foundation Aid, bringing the new Education Aid total to $25.8 billion or an increase of 4.4 percent.
Expense-based aids to support school construction, pupil transportation, BOCES and special education were continued in full, as is the State’s usual practice. Transportation Aid increased 5.5 percent and Building Aid increased 4.8 percent.
The budget continues to link school aid increases for 2017-18 and 2018-19 with teacher and principal evaluation plans approved by September 1 of the current year in compliance with Education Law section 3012-d.
Here are some highlights:
The good news is the budget keeps the Foundation Aid formula, which had been threatened in the executive budget. The formula is the path to adequate funding for all students and will allow school districts to better predict their aid year by year. The formula now provides $17.2 billion in aid to school districts or two-thirds of total school aid. An increase of $700 million was appropriated for Foundation Aid. This leaves approximately $3.6 billion in Foundation Aid Still Due for full implementation of the formula.
The 2017-18 laws provide for:
- Base year funding of $6,340 per student. This amount is then increased by inflation and each district’s pupil needs and regional costs and reduced by each district’s expected local contribution.
- A minimum increase of 2.74 percent.
- No district will receive less than 44.75 percent of their Total Foundation Aid.
- Increases targeted to districts with concentrations of English language learners, small cities, and high poverty
- The Community Schools Aid setaside continues as the sum of the $100 million appropriated for 2016-17 and $50 million proposed in the executive proposal.
o School district must set aside amounts set forth by the executive to be used for community hubs to deliver co-located or school-linked academic, health, mental health services and personnel, after school programming, dual language programs, nutrition, counseling, legal and/or other services to students and their families.
o This includes providing a community school site coordinator and programs for English language learners, or other efforts to maximize students' academic achievement.
o School districts whose community schools increase exceeds $1,000,000 shall use an amount equal to the greater of $150,000 or 10 percent of such community schools increase to support such transformation at schools with extraordinarily high levels of student need as identified by the commissioner of education, subject to the approval of the director of the budget.
- Use of three years of federal Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates instead of the previously used 2000 Census poverty data or for school districts with a concentration of students in nonpublic schools a choice of the better of three years of federal Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates or 2000 Census data.
NYSASBO’s 2016 Foundation Aid Task Force strongly recommended improving the measurement of student poverty in the distribution of Foundation Aid and applauds the move to the more current Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates rather than the outdated Census data. NYSASBO supports the use of current data in all aspects of the funding formula and use of better data to measure student need.
Charter school advocates are claiming victory in this year’s state budget and for good reason. Charter schools saw an increase of $500 per student for the 2017-18 year. Aid increases for subsequent years will be tied to funding increases provided to public school districts.
This $500 will be from supplemental charter school tuition, which school districts pay and are reimbursed for by the State.
Despite a last minute push to remove it, the cap on the number of charter schools in New York State remains intact.
Partial payment of taxes
The budget includes a provision allowing school districts to authorize and set conditions for the partial payment of taxes. The entity in charge of tax collection must follow the school board of education’s guidance and the maximum service charge for partial payment is $10.
NYSASBO had opposed this legislation for the increased complexity and costs that districts would experience. Since it is a choice for school districts NYSASBO urges school districts to consider all aspects of the impact of accepting partial tax payments before agreeing to do so.
The budget includes appropriations for a variety of grant programs. These include:
- $26.35 million bilingual education grants
- $5.6 million learning technology program grants
- $35 million Empire After-School grants
- $2 million Advanced Placement exam fees for low-income students
- $5.3 million early college high school program grants
- $2 million master teacher awards in computer science
- $400,000 excellence in teaching awards
- $300,000 cyberbullying prevention initiative
- $3 million reimbursements to East Ramapo CSD for student support
- $18 million for My Brother’s Keeper initiative
The enacted 2017-18 budget includes full funding of the STAR program at approximately $3.15 Billion. It also rejected the Governor’s proposed cap on STAR savings. Rejecting this cap saves local property taxpayers approximately $50 million this year, $700 million over five years.
In addition, changes were made to the STAR Credit program which was enacted last year. STAR Credit checks are now expected to be mailed out prior to when school taxes are due. They will be based on the previous year’s amount adjusted by the levy growth factor used for the property tax cap. Any changes that must be made based on the final STAR Credit compared to the estimate used will be factored into the subsequent year’s STAR Credit check or taxpayers may also account for those changes in their State income taxes.
There will be another round of property tax rebate checks. This program is for homeowners who have an income of less than $275,000, are enrolled in STAR, and whose school district and local municipality both stayed within the tax cap.
Career and Technical Education
The budget does not include increasing funding for career and technical education teachers that NYSASBO and others had recommended and that the Legislature included in its separate one-house budgets.
Federal Funding Response Plan
The budget allows the executive to reduce aid to school districts mid-year if receipts from the federal government are less than what was expected. The Legislature has 90 days to approve the Executive’s plan.
Workers’ Compensation Reform
The budget included changes to workers’ compensation which aims to reduce costs for businesses, local governments, not-for-profits, and school districts. Changes include:
- Employees now have 2.5 years to claim temporary benefits.
- Requires the Workers’ Compensation Board to issue new medical impairment guidelines by the end of the year. These new guidelines will reflect advances in modern medicine that enhance healing and result in better outcomes for patients. These guidelines have not been updated in decades for some injuries.
- The Workers’ Compensation Board is instructed to create a prescription drug formulary. This list of high quality, cost-effective medications that are pre-approved to be prescribed and dispensed to injured workers will allow the worker to get timely appropriate care. Doctors will also be allowed to prescribe non-preferred drugs with prior approval.
- Rebates for Current Year Premiums – Employers can expect to receive a rebate at the end of the year as they have been paying premiums that were based on the old workers’ compensation system.
- Extended permanent benefits have been expanded to include any worker that is more than 75% injured.
- Allows those workers who receive permanent benefits to removing themselves from the labor market while still receiving said benefits.
NYSASBO will continue to study details related to the budget including the impact of the distribution of aid to school districts.