State lawmakers pressed to fully fund public schools through Foundation Aid

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Education advocates urged lawmakers to push to fully fund ‘foundation’ aid during a round-table discussion at Bayside High School in Queens on Tuesday.

The meeting was the last of five round tables held to discuss school needs before a Dec. 3  state senate public hearing on the impact of the foundation aid formula.

The round table was headed by state Senator Shelley Mayer, John Liu, Brian Benjamin, who were joined by fellow state Senator Liz Krueger along with members of the New York state education department board of regents and City Council member Mark Treyger and New York City DOE Chief Financial Officer to listen to community concerns. 

“If a child doesn’t have a notebook and they come to school…do we leave this child to just be unprepared all year? Or do we give this kid a notebook?” asked Thomas Sheppard, part of Community Education Council 11 in the Bronx.

Sheppard, other CEC members and members of groups like the New York Immigration Coalition, Advocates for Children of New York and the Alliance for Quality Education agreed that the in order to best help students foundation aid needs to be fully funded ‘as it was intended.’

“Should a teacher have to pay for that out of pocket?” added Sheppard about the times school teachers compensate for poor conditions in schools. 

“We have to get out of this mindset of doing more with less,”said Sheppard, who added that the city and state already knew what schools need.

But differing interpretation on the ruling that led to the creation of foundation aid have divided Governor Cuomo and state legislators. State legislators at the meeting said that they were aware that they needed to fight for more funds in Albany but were limited in part by the  Governor’s 2 percent spending cap on state agencies. 

“Even if we came up with new taxes and new sources of revenue, the Governor is still not going to budge on limiting annual increases in spending to 2 percent,” said state Senator John Liu.

Liu added that the only way for the Governor to not enforce the 2 percent cap is if the legislature secured a veto-proof majority.