Written by Daniel Offner, email@example.com Thursday, 30 January 2014 00:00
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $137 billion spending plan will increase education aid by $807 million for the 2014-2015 school year, but school officials say it will still put them up against the wall.
“While we appreciate having a very tiny increase in state aid, this increase is nowhere near where we should be because of the loss in Gap Elimination adjustment to districts like us,” said Dr. Lorna Lewis, Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District Superintendent of Schools. “In the past three years we have lost over $6 million dollars.”
Based on the preliminary budget figures, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District will receive $287,654 more than last year, or a total of $14,931,654 — an increase of 1.93 percent.
“All of our units have entered into four year agreements that have frozen salary scales over that period. Without this agreement we would not be able to maintain our programs as State Aid has remained relatively flat for us,” said Lewis. “The Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District continues to receive less than our fair share of State Aid and that places an undue burden on our citizens to continue the level of excellence they have come to count on. The governor must think about restructuring the way State Aid is calculated.”
For Lewis, state aid has become a major concern since 2010, when Gov. Cuomo capped school district’s abilities to hike the tax levy more than two percent.
Using the preliminary budget numbers, the state Department of Education has calculated estimates of how much state aid will be allocated to each individual school district. Of the $807 million increase, the state education department estimates a $24.2 million increase for school districts in Nassau County. The $807 million proposed in the executive budget drives an average increase of nearly $300 per student.
The executive budget also allocates $1.5 billion, over a five-year period, to fund a statewide universal full-day pre-K program, $720 million over five years to expand after-school programs, and proposes a $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act to ensure students have access to the latest technology needed to compete on the global stage.
And Plainview’s Lewis is not alone in her criticism for the proposed state aid increases. According to Timothy G. Kremer, the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, the $807 million increase statewide would leave schools unable to continue their current programs and services without exceeding the tax cap.
“While the governor’s budget contains many laudable issues such as state-funded universal prekindergarten and after-school programs, his state aid allocation falls way short of the mark,” Kremer said. “We appreciate the governor’s leadership in putting forward a $2 billion proposal for technology and capital costs associated with full-day prekindergarten expansion, but hope that the Legislature will increase the state’s investment in general support for public schools.”
Since the executive budget has not yet been approved by state lawmakers, the amount of state aid is subject to change.
— with additional reporting by Steve Mosco
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Kids of Distinction program is offering more scholarships and planning a festive gala that will look back on a decade of supporting our most civic-minded children. The Town of Oyster Bay and the Old Bethpage-based Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., the sponsoring entities, are seeking nominations of local youngsters who are standouts in public service for the 2014 awards.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, together with Kids Helping Kids co-founders Robert A.J. Eslick and Philip M. Eslick, kicked off the search for a new batch of “kids of distinction” at the end of February. Nominations are due by May 16. Winners will be recognized at a special ceremony held by the board of trustees on Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. with a citation from the Town and a $2,000 scholarship from Kids Helping Kids.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:49
Standing at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by the Long Island STEM Hub and dozens of Long Island students who are part of the school’s engineering and robotics team, announced her education agenda to encourage more youths, especially women, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), bolster engineering education programs across Long Island’s elementary, middle, and high schools and draw more STEM teachers to educate children in high-need areas.
With eight of nine of the fastest growing industries requiring math and science proficiency and women, minority, and low-income students underrepresented in STEM-related careers, Gillibrand is pushing for federal measures to close the achievement gap and bring more STEM-related programs, such as the Long Island STEM Hub’s Career Academies, to schools across Long Island. With the success of POB-JFK high school’s targeted STEM curriculum and engineering program, the Hub will be launching an additional career academy in engineering next school year.