March 31—The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center–Teach NYS applauds Governor Cuomo, State Senate Co-Leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for reaching an agreement last week on the state budget that includes legislative items that provide an unprecedented amount of funding for non-public schools.
The final version of the negotiated budget, which was worked on by the governor, the Senate, and the Assembly, increases funding for already existing programs that go directly to Jewish day schools’ operational budgets and also creates new funding programs for education, including:
• An allocation of $97.5 million to Mandated Services Reimbursements (MSR) and $45 million for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP), for a total of $142.5 million—the largest amount ever allocated to these two programs.
• An allocation of $16 million toward a payment plan for the state to pay down its balance of $220 million for the years it underfunded the CAP and MSR programs. This is the first time the state has agreed to this type of allocation for these two programs.
• An allocation of $4.5 million for the safety and security program for non-public schools, allowing schools to be reimbursed for any safety equipment they purchase.
• The $2 billion Smart Schools bond, which will provide money for capital improvements and technology to both public and non-public schools. OU Advocacy–Teach NYS worked with New York State leadership to ensure the inclusion of private and faith-based schools after they were not included in the initial proposal. This must be approved by voter referendum in November.
• An allocation of $340 million to fund the Universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program, making full-day pre-K available for any community throughout the state that wants it. OU Advocacy–Teach NYS fought to make sure that non-public schools were included in the legislation and that language placing burdensome restrictions on non-public schools was removed from the legislation.
“We are grateful for this historic level of support shown by Governor Cuomo, State Senate Co-Leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in crafting a budget that not only is beneficial to non-public schools, but really moves the needle on creating parity and fairness for the non-public school families of New York,” said Jeff Leb, director of OU Advocacy–Teach NYS. “All schoolchildren deserve to be in a safe and secure environment with modern technology and get the ‘leg up’ they need to succeed—regardless of where they go to school.”
“Although we didn’t get everything we hoped for this year, these allocations mark a strong foundation for state funding of non-public schools,” said Maury Litwack, OU’s director of state political affairs and outreach. “We thank our many coalition partners within other faith organizations and throughout the Jewish community who were instrumental in helping us achieve these important results.” v