Parents who face losing school district funding discuss proposed state budget

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.

Jonathan Gordon

Jan 19, 2024, 1:24 AM

Updated 185 days ago

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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.
STATE AID FOR SCHOOLS
DUTCHESS INCREASE: 7 DECREASE: 6 TOTAL: 6/13 (46%)
ORANGE INCREASE: 15 DECREASE: 2 TOTAL: 2/17 (12%)
PUTNAM INCREASE: 5 DECREASE: 1 TOTAL: 1/6 (17%)
ROCKLAND INCREASE: 6 DECREASE: 2 TOTAL: 2/8 (25%)
WESTCHESTER INCREASE: 21 DECREASE: 19 TOTAL: 19/40 (48%)
FIVE COUNTIES TOTAL: 30/84 (36%)
Parents said any cuts would be unacceptable.
"Everybody needs their teachers, they need their librarians, they need their music, they need their gym. You need all that. If you don't have one of those you don't have a complete education," one parent told News 12 outside of Hamilton Elementary School in Mount Vernon.
Cuts in funding could lead to fewer teachers hired, schools closed or courses reduced.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's budget includes an overall $35.3 billion or a 2.4% increase in aid to schools but the way that money is dolled out will mean some districts won't see as much as they did last year.
The governor has proposed removing the "hold harmless" provision which prevented any school district from receiving less aid than it did in the prior year.
"As much as we may want to, we are not going to be able to replicate the massive increases of the last two years. No one could have expected the extraordinary jumps in aid to recur annually. And remember this, between the federal government and the state, an additional $20 billion has been targeted to our schools over the last three and a half years," Hochul said at her fiscal year 2025 budget presentation on Jan. 16.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the governor's office said, “Since Governor Hochul took office, school aid in Westchester has increased by nearly $313 million, for a total of $1.23 billion in school aid. As has been true for decades, funding for individual districts was determined by a mathematical formula that takes into account factors such as the number of pupils, inflation, and local wealth."
Overall, a majority of schools in the Hudson Valley would see an increase but that's not reassuring to those who wouldn't.
"There's a lot of stuff in these cities that need help you know, and one of them is not reducing school," Mount Vernon parent Lindsay Fortuniwicz said.
Many state lawmakers have publicly spoken out about any cuts to education in the upcoming budget.
Education leaders have already said they plan to lobby for additional funding in Albany at the 2024 Annual Legislative Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Wednesday, Feb. 28.
The state budget must be finalized by April 1.


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