July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

TeachNYS Scores Big In NY State Budget

On April 12, TeachNYS hosted a webinar on the newly passed New York State budget, with 18% increased across-the-board funding for nonpublic schools. Sydney Altfield, director of grassroots engagement, opened the event.

Executive Director Maury Litwack gave a breakdown: “We’re very pleased that STEM funding we fought hard for with people like then-Assemblymember, now Senator, Sean Ryan increased 45% from $40 million last year to $58 million this year. We’re very, very pleased that the Security Health funding, typically $15 million, increased to $45 million. This line was about $31 a kid; now, it’s closer to $93 per kid. Capital expenditures, such as aging infrastructure, are also included.”

Litwack listed other renewed items, including academic intervention services and $25 million
community grants against hate. Capped mandated services increased close to $2 million. Current nonpublic school allocations exceed $325 million this year. “This is the result of not just this year, but the last five to seven years we’ve been fighting for these increases in Albany.” Litwack explained. “What does a $58 million STEM appropriation mean? STEM applications this year were $74 million. $58 million means the state is appropriating close to 80% of the eligible funding, meaning more money for your schools. This means more critical funding for hiring teachers.”

“This was the Triple Crown,” said Ryan. “Of the three major funding sources your organization usually pushes in a good year, you might get one or two. You got all three this year. And particularly, in the STEM field, you got a whopping increase. We consider big winners if you get a 3% to 5% increase, and we increased this 45%.

“The increased bread-and-butter … policy-mandated services are also very helpful,” Ryan added. “I think you achieved these results because a broad-based group of legislators, through your education, have come to understand your issues, and I count myself one who benefited from the educational advocacy to understand different communities all around our state.

“I’m happy to have helped support these items,” Ryan continued. “A lot of different people from different parts of the state and different interests all came together to make this happen. This doesn’t happen, but for the act of advocacy, which was a little tough the last two years of the pandemic.

“I’m very confident that next year, I will see busloads of kids coming to Albany, having them watch proceedings and interact with elected officials. I really compliment the work that your group has done, because these gains are very much out of the ordinary. Congratulations for helping us get a very good budget.”

Ryan described, in the state’s budget process, how groups contacted his office looking for support in funding. “It’s a hard part of the job, because people who are reaching out have very good programs. … There’s never enough money to take care of all needs. I can confidently advocate for an increase of STEM funding for nonpublic schools. I’m confident that money is going to be spent appropriately, wisely and have an impact on students.”

Ryan revealed a bill he is sponsoring that will impact both public and nonpublic schools. New York State produces power through the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and allocates cheap power to the MTA, airports and school districts at very low rates. Currently, only public schools benefit. Ryan’s legislation would have NYPA include low-cost power allocations to nonpublic institutions, saving school operating costs.

Altfield summarized: “We can only be successful when people of the community, not just our schools, and not just their top three people, are involved, educating their elected officials. It’s all communities getting involved in civic engagement. It’s important for you to spread the word, to tell your communities, friends and families, no matter what school they go to, that this is a movement to get involved with, because we cannot be as successful as we are without a movement behind us.”

Altfield concluded: “Look for emails. We’ll be sending out action alerts to thank our legislators and governor for this record-breaking funding. It’s important they hear you thanking them. This budget has passed. That means we’re starting again for next year.”

By Judy Berger

 

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