Republican Lawmakers Push Gov. Cuomo to Release Projected School Aid

Republicans in the state Assembly on Thursday pushed Governor Andrew Cuomo to release school aid runs so that districts can better plan their budgets and tax levies, which are due to go before voters this May. Nick Reisman has more. 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- State officials at the Capitol are digging in when it comes to the ongoing debate over education policy in New York. On Thursday, Assembly Republicans blasted Governor Andrew Cuomo for not releasing projected state aid for individual school districts. 

"I can think of no worse example of not being transparent, not having sunlight, than not releasing all of the school aid runs to the school districts around the state," said Brian Kolb, R - Assembly Minority Leader.

Cuomo has said districts can set their budgets with last year's aid figures in mind. But school officials say this isn't good enough and leads to more uncertainty. 

"I've been here for 15 years and I've never experienced a governor in both parties that has not released school aid runs as part of their executive budget proposal," Kolb said.

The aid is just a small part of the unrest over education proposals in Cuomo's $142 billion budget, which seeks to create a new, more stringent teacher evaluation system and make it harder for teachers to obtain tenure. 

"Do you leave a failing teacher in a classroom and sacrifice the students? Or, do you get a teacher whose effective and help the students?" Cuomo asked.

Cuomo's office on Thursday released a report claiming 178 schools in New York are failing -- based on low graduation rates and test scores. As such, Cuomo wants to make it easier for the state to takeover troubled schools. 

"The governor has his position. The union has their position and we in the Assembly majority are going to come up with how we believe we should move forward on education policy," said Carl Heastie, D - Assembly Speaker.

Cuomo's push includes raising the cap on charter schools statewide -- a move opposed by the teachers unions, who have their strongest support in the Democratic-led Assembly. 

"We are still actively discussing all of the issues. We haven't come up with a final determination," said Heastie.

Cuomo has insisted his policies aren't aimed at hurting public school teachers, even as he wants results. Even still, lawmakers say Cuomo won't get everything he wants. 

"I believe there's going to be a very lengthy, robust discussion on all of those proposals. And I don't believe anyone -- either in the Assembly or in the Senate  -- should shy away from those discussions," said John Flanagan, R- Senate Education Chairman.

 

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