North Salem Central School District leaders respond to proposed state education budget

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New York Governor Hochul last week released her proposed fiscal year 2024 state budget for New York, which includes $34.5 billion in aid for public schools. Top education priorities in the state’s budget include an increase in state aid, increasing funding for school-based mental health care and funding to expand prekindergarten and corresponding funding for childcare.

Gov. Hochul’s state aid allowance represents a 10 percent increase over last year, and includes a $2.7 billion increase in Foundation Aid. Foundation Aid was created in 2007 with the goal of equitably distributing state funding for schools. It determines funding based on school district wealth and student need. However, New York State has failed to fully fund it since its inception.

In remarks during the Feb. 1 Board of Education meeting, Eric Stark, director of business administration for North Salem schools, said that he expects North Salem to receive a near 28% increase in Foundation Aid, of $474,636. Stark noted that while the increase will be unquestionably beneficial to the district, it also means that the district has been shorted “quite a bit” over the past several years. “But we’re being made whole now,” he said. BOCES aid is also expected to increase next year by 9%, or about $50,000.

The governor’s budget did not include funding to provide universal meals for all students, a decision that the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) strongly opposed. "Assuring all students are provided with healthy school meals is at the core of preparing young people to succeed and thrive at school. No student should go through the day hungry or anxious about accessing their next meal. Providing universal school meals is a commonsense way to fully support our students and families, especially during these difficult economic times,” the organization said in a statement.

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