New York’s education commissioner asked lawmakers Wednesday for a $2.4 billion increase in funding in the next state budget, including $45 million for teacher and principal development like that recommended by a task force convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Testifying before the state Legislature’s finance committees in Albany, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said none of 21 task force recommendations delivered to the governor in December were specifically funded in the executive budget proposed for next year. The task force was charged with reviewing the state’s Common Core learning standards, curriculum and testing.
“Teachers are the key to improving outcomes for our students, and the key to helping teachers make a difference for their students is to provide them with professional development opportunities that support continuous improvement,” said Elia, the first of more than 30 educators and advocates scheduled to testify during the daylong budget hearing.
Cuomo’s $145 billion budget proposal would increase school aid by a little less than $1 billion in 2016-17, less than half of what the Board of Regents and other education advocates have said is needed.
Elia also called for $434 million to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which lets the state take back some school aid to balance the budget, $125 million to expand pre-kindergarten access and $75 million to support English language learners, who she said now comprise about 8 percent of public school students.
The state teachers union proposed a $2.6 billion state aid increase, along with modifications to the state’s tax cap law that limits school districts’ ability to raise property taxes. New York State United Teachers Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta proposed eliminating a requirement that school budget proposals that exceed the tax cap receive a supermajority of 60 percent to pass.