Last updated on February 13th, 2024
In December, the New York State Board of Regents unveiled its proposed budget and legislative priorities for 2024-2025. Priorities focus on supporting lifelong learning, academic success, and improved outcomes; advancing equity, excellence, and access; and rebuilding the Department’s ability to support districts, teachers, students, and all New Yorkers. When it comes to new funding, here are the ten largest line items noted in the 2024-2025 Regents State Aid Proposal: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.regents.nysed.gov/sites/regents/files/1223bra4revised12.11.pdf
#10. $4.3 million for agency-wide infrastructure
With a goal of rebuilding the Department’s capacity to provide world-class customer service and improve supports for all stakeholders, proposed funding is for new staff (primarily in IT, but also HR and Finance) and the purchase of external technology and services to update basic technical infrastructure, support system security, replace outdated systems, support licensing, and more.
#9. $4.5 million to support English language learner assessments
This involves updating translations of all required assessments, parent materials, and public information; providing computer-based delivery of NYS English as a Second Language Achievement Tests and interim assessments; and better supporting students with disabilities who are also English Language Learners.
#8. $11.1 million for higher education opportunity programs
This allows more students to benefit from opportunity programs like the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and Liberty Partnerships Programs (LPP). These programs make higher education possible for students who would otherwise not be able to attend due to economic and education circumstances; they also help prevent dropouts.
#7. $15.5 million for a Special Education Data System
Funding is for a project team and capital construction for an Office of Special Education new real-time data system to help the Department, local school districts, counties, and parents identify New York programs that can support the needs of students with disabilities. Over the long-term, a comprehensive and fully integrated system will help support and evaluate administrative and programmatic goals for New York’s special education system.
#6. $17 million for cultural education revenue stabilization
The purpose is to stabilize operational funding for the State Museum, State Library, State Archives, and Office of Public Broadcasting and Educational Television. Funding varies greatly year-to-year due to its dependence on macroeconomic conditions (including inflation) and a revenue stream based on a fee that has not changed in more than 20 years.
#5. $19 million to support special education provider residential programs
Funding will be used to help special education providers appropriately fund operations and improve the availability of residential placements for school-aged students. Funding would also make providers whole when tuition cannot be billed due to an adult (up to age 22) occupying a student placement because no suitable alternative is available.
#4. $20 million for juvenile justice hybrid programming
Funding is for the design and implementation of a statewide hybrid high school in collaboration with the Office of Children and Family Services for students in juvenile justice settings. Funding would cover the cost of staff (including certified teachers) and the costs of providing coursework online.
#3. $45 million for public library construction assistance
The State Aid for Library Construction program stretches local investment and helps ensure libraries serving economically disadvantaged communities can access capital funding for critical improvements.
#2. $70.5 million to provide a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) to Students with Disabilities until age 22
Funding will help meet legal requirements to provide special education and related services to resident students with disabilities until the day before a student’s 22nd birthday, unless they have already obtained a high school diploma. (Currently, state law only provides funding through the school year that a student turns 21.)
#1. $174 million for maintenance and/or construction of education buildings
Funds will be used to maintain and update buildings where staff work, like the State Education Building, and for maintenance or construction at five state-owned schools (the NYS School for the Blind, the NYS School for the Deaf, the Onondaga Nation School, the Tuscarora Nation School, and the St. Regis Mohawk Nation School). Specifically, $90 million will go to a new building at the St. Regis Mohawk School; however, this may be partially offset by funding provided for extensive maintenance work last year.
As for state aid, the proposal calls for an additional $1.6 billion for the 2024-25 school year to ensure an increase in funding for the state’s neediest districts ($926.8 million in Foundation Aid); to review and modernize the Foundation Aid formula ($343.4 Million); and to reimburse districts for other aid programs as per current law ($359.4 million), while providing relief for districts with sudden enrollment increases; aid for students with disabilities between ages 21 and 22; enhanced BOCES Aid and Special Services Aid for ninth grade; and streamlining of prekindergarten funding.
This discussion wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t take a moment to mention Governor Hochul’s proposed budget for 2024-2025. While the proposed budget would increase school funding by record amounts, proposed Foundation Aid falls short of what the Regents proposed and certain changes could have a significant impact on district budgets across the state.
As reported on Westchester News 12, “One-third of school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley region will see less state funding for education if the current 2025 fiscal year state budget proposal remains as is. Beacon, Greenwood Lake, Garrison, Pearl River, and Mount Vernon are among the 30 school districts in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties projected to get less from the state next year compared to this year.”
As we await finalization (the NYS budget is supposed to be approved April 1), please know that if you have any accounting, tax, audit, or advisory needs, RBT CPAs is here to support you. We’ve been serving school districts and higher education institutions in the Hudson Valley and beyond for over 50 years. Known for delivering an exceptional customer experience, as well as the upholding the highest levels of professionalism and ethics, the RBT team believes we succeed when we help you succeed. If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.
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