After last year’s record-breaking education budget, which included an additional $3.03 billion in state aid to public schools, the New York State Board of Regents on Monday requested a more down-to-earth budget increase of $1.35 billion.

Still, the request may face some strong headwinds. It’s being made while the state is facing a $4 billion-plus budget gap, and Gov. Kathy Hochul has already stated her unwillingness to hike personal income taxes on the wealthy. 

Under the umbrella of the $1.35 billion increase, the Board  of Regents’ proposal also includes both a short-term and long-term plan to address the outdated Foundation Aid formula, which was instituted in 2007 during the tenure of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. 

Foundation Aid is the primary source of state funding for public schools.

“The formula replaced approximately 30 existing aid programs and created a single flexible operating aid formula based on actual district expenditures and students’ needs,” the proposal states.

The Board of Regents have requested $1 million for a study to replace the existing formula, which uses Census data from the year 2000. 

In the short term, the Board of Regents is requesting an increase of $253.4 million in Foundation Aid funding for schools next year.

In an emailed statement to Capital Tonight, the Statewide School Finance Consortium (SSFC), an organization of more than 400 New York state public school districts whose mission is to bring equity to the distribution of state aid, applauded the Board of Regents proposal. 

Rick Timbs, SSFC’s executive director, also expressed hoped that the Board of Regents’ proposal to study the Foundation Aid formula would answer the following questions: “How much does it cost to educate a child in NYS?” and “What is the financial obligation of NYS to support that mission?”

Timbs called updating the Foundation Aid formula long overdue. 

“Such work should begin with the first factor in the formula, the Foundation amount that must finally identify quantitatively the state’s responsibility to adequately support the public education of every child," he said. "Further refinements and updates are also needed in other aid categories. These include High Tax aid, Academic Enhancement aid, Public and Private Excess Cost aids, and BOCES aid.”

Timbs continued.

“Additionally, research is needed with regards to Building and Transportation aids to ensure adequate funding as districts face the costly transition to Zero-Emissions bus transportation fleets and related facility improvements. Finally, the state must provide Transportation aid to support the state initiative for Universal Pre-K programs,” Timbs wrote.

Hochul is scheduled to present her State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 9.