state budget 2013

Legislative budgets increase aid to schools, to Cuomo's chagrin

The New York State Senate has proposed adding $415 million in schools aid to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original budget proposal, according to a resolution passed today. As expected, the Senate’s plan leaves out extra funding for New York City, which could be forced to give back roughly $240 million at the end of the month because it missed a mandate teacher evaluation deadline.

The Senate’s education funding proposal is $81 million more than what the Assembly’s proposal, which adds $334 million to Cuomo’s proposal. Unlike the Senate, the Assembly,  whose Democratic caucus is dominated by New York City lawmakers, is proposing to restore the $240 million to city schools.

Both of the houses are offering roughly $300 million of its education aid to funding formulas that emphasizes greater funding equity between poor and affluent school districts.

“The Senate, like the Assembly, deserves credit for adding $300 million in classroom aid to be distributed based on fairness and equity,” said Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton, whose group has lobbied for the budget to include a greater share of aid for poor districts. “The big difference between the two houses is that the Assembly is standing up to stop $240 million in cuts to New York City while the Senate would cut these funds.”

The Assembly released some more detail about its budget proposal, which are below:

The full $25 million for the pre-kindergarten grant, which was recommended by the Governor, has been preserved and the program modified to include additional half-day slots.

The Assembly proposes $975 million for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), an increase of $25 million over the Executive Proposal. The increase in funding would be dedicated for the implementation of the New York State Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

Additional funding is included for SUNY and CUNY community colleges. The plan includes an additional $150 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student to raise the total community college base aid to $2,422 per FTE. The proposal also includes the restoration of more than $1.5 million for SUNY and CUNY childcare centers, which provide vital assistance to parents who attend college.

Higher Education Opportunity Programs (HEOP) would be increased by $3.7 million.

The Assembly proposal includes $106 million in capital funds for CUNY and an additional $50 million for SUNY Stonybrook Health Science Center, SUNY Downstate Health Science Center, and SUNY Upstate Health Science Center.


Cuomo knocked both one-house proposals, telling reporters today that he would not consider giving back any education money to New York City. Cuomo officials say one issue he has with restoring the funds is that it will make it more difficult to enforce a similar law with other districts moving forward.

“We don’t enforce the rule, then going forward we’re going to have a problem,” Cuomo said, according to the Albany Times Union, referring to the time constraints placed on districts statewide to reach a plan.

Those funds could be restored anyway through a lawsuit brought by education funding attorney Michael Rebell, who has temporarily gotten both the state and the city to halt immediate budget cuts resulting from the state aid deficit.

Legislative leaders in both houses are meeting tonight to begin formal negotiation proceedings. A budget it due on March 1, but all sides have said that they hope to have one approved by March 21.


Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.