Westchester legislators join calls to reverse proposed cuts in state aid to schools

According to county legislators, 40 school districts in Westchester would see a loss of a combined $19.6 million in aid if the governor's budget goes through.

Jonathan Gordon

Mar 21, 2024, 11:35 PM

Updated 116 days ago


A majority of the Westchester Legislature stood side by side with union leaders and educators calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to reverse her budget proposal that would cut millions in state aid to schools across New York.
According to county legislators, 40 school districts in Westchester would see a loss of a combined $19.6 million in aid if the governor's budget goes through.
"We cannot continue to play politics with funding for public schools. Certain parts of the state budget must be treated as sacred. Certain parts of the state budget must be protected above all else," Westchester Legislator Emiljana Ulaj said.
Bedford (30%), Pocantico Hills (39%) and Harrison (19%) are among the school districts that would see the biggest losses.
"How are we going to grapple with that and still meet the needs?" Bedford Superintendent of Schools Robert Glass said.
Joining them was State Sen. Shelley Mayer who chairs the state senate education committee. She has been a fierce advocate for giving as much money to schools as possible.
"This is wrong, the impact is devastating and it cannot be justified," Mayer said.
Educators said budget cuts would mean hiring fewer teachers and in some cases eliminating positions, cuts to programs and larger class sizes.
"I ask Gov. Hochul, do you value our children? Because if you value our children you will put the money behind their education, Yonkers Federation of Teachers President Samantha Rosado-Ciriello said.
"This proposed budget is indeed a broken promise. It's a broken promise to our children and our school communities," White Plains Teachers' Association President Kara McCormick-Lyons added.
Roughly one-third of all school districts in the Hudson Valley would see a reduction in state aid next year compared to this year. The governor's proposal would eliminate a longstanding mechanism that guaranteed school districts wouldn't see a reduction in aid even if their formula aid didn't go up. It also would not guarantee additional money to compensate for inflation.
"We know that difficult decisions need to be made. Compromises and tradeoffs are necessary. But we're going to urge Gov. Hochul not to compromise with our kids' futures," Westchester Legislature Chair Vedat Gashi said.
A spokesperson for the governor's office told News 12: “Gov. Hochul’s Executive Budget makes record-setting investments in New York’s future while ensuring the state remains on a stable long-term fiscal trajectory, and she will work with the Legislature to craft a final budget that achieves these goals.”
That spokesperson pointed to the fact that some school districts will receive more next year. Adding that Hochul's proposal includes $1.23 billion in school aid for Westchester, including a $33 million overall annual increase in Foundation Aid.
Both the state Senate and Assembly released their counter budgets to the governors which did not include cuts in school aid.
The deadline to reach an agreement is April 1.

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