[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT legislative priority:
Restore Foundation Aid


s the New York state budget season continues, NYSUT remains laser focused on restoring fully funded Foundation Aid to our schools, students and communities across the state. NYSUT officers have been crisscrossing the state visiting districts facing cuts.

In the executive budget proposal, every school district in the state is being underfunded by a new Foundation Aid formula, which would result in smaller aid increases or outright cuts.

To add insult to injury, the executive budget proposal would do away with “hold harmless,” which has guaranteed a district cannot receive less in state aid than the year before.

What would these changes mean? Shuttered programs, fewer offerings for students and less services for our communities. They would result in devastating cuts. And that’s not just NYSUT saying that. That is being echoed by teachers, lawmakers, superintendents and education groups across the entire state.

the band and their conductor at Ward Melville High School in the Three Village School District


The band at Ward Melville High School in the Three Village School District on Long Island plays Ludwig Von Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The district has made major efforts to bring more arts, science and technology courses to students, many of which may not survive the proposed Foundation Aid cuts in the executive budget.
Parishville-Hopkinton in the northern Adirondacks is facing a loss of over 12 percent of their Foundation Aid. Lake George is staring at a whopping 39 percent drop in Foundation Aid. Port Jefferson on Long Island is facing a cut of nearly $1.3 million, slashing 41 percent of the district’s Foundation Aid. North Tonawanda in Western New York stands to lose over 6 percent of their Foundation Aid — nearly $2 million. Three Villages on Long Island is facing the largest cut in the state by dollar amount at nearly $8 million.

“Every single dollar cut means less programs, fewer opportunities and even scarcer resources for our educators, students and communities,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person. “It’s why we are fighting to tell the state and the Legislature to restore full funding for Foundation Aid for every district, every student and every community.”

In Onteora in Ulster County, hold harmless cuts would see the district lose nearly 40 percent of its Foundation Aid, over $3 million. That would amount to almost 5 percent of last year’s budget for the district. The loss of that money could lead to staffing cuts, programs being shuttered and student supports going away if full funding is not restored. Half of the students in the rural district are economically disadvantaged and the district provides many services that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

“Our students are directly affected by these proposed cuts,” said Onteora Teachers Association President Scott Via. “I don’t want to see any opportunities for them taken away, whether it’s mental health services, art and music programs, AP courses or hands-on electives like our science of survival course.”

In Saratoga County, the 1,400 student Schuylerville School District is facing a cut of 17 percent of its Foundation Aid, nearly 6 percent of last year’s total budget. Career and Technical Education programs, engineering, hands-on learning opportunities and mental health services could all be on the chopping block.

“Our teachers don’t just teach the content,” said Schuylerville TA President Erin Lloyd. “They are an ear to listen, they are there for students who are going through unprecedented times.”

“There’s a common thread I’ve heard in every district I’ve met with, it’s that we don’t want to go backwards, we want to move forward,” Person said. “To pull the rug out from districts who have done the right thing is unconscionable.”

Leading up to the April 1 budget deadline, NYSUT member-activists with the union’s Committee of 100 took their fight straight to lawmakers.

NYSUT budget priorities

More than 600 educators, including teachers, School-Related Professionals, retirees and members from higher ed institutions descended upon the Capitol in early March to share their personal stories and inform legislators of the real toll these proposed cuts would take in communities across the state.
Patrick Romain, J. Philippe Abraham, and Carolyn Kube among the crowd of protestors against the closure of a teaching hospital


From left, Patrick Romain, United University Professions statewide membership development officer, NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham and Carolyn Kube, UUP vice president for professionals, protest the proposed closure of SUNY Downstate’s teaching hospital, a critically needed resource in Brooklyn.
NYSUT is also continuing to fight against the proposed closure of SUNY Downstate’s University Hospital, which provides critical health services in an underserved area and serves to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals. Head to our Member Action Center, mac.nysut.org, to take action and tell state legislators to save SUNY Downstate’s Hospital.

Other key budget priorities include:

  • Expanding school meals
  • Protecting students and educators from extreme classroom heat
  • A New Deal for Higher Ed
  • Enhancing CTE programs and experiential learning
  • Fixing Tier 6
  • Addressing APPR
  • Attracting more educators to the profession

For more on the union’s fight to restore the funding every student and every community needs and deserves, visit FundOurFutureNY.org and PublicSchoolsUniteUs.org.