School aid in the 2013-14 budget exceeds the cap tied to personal income growth for school aid and “distributes the funds in a poorly targeted manner, giving increases to wealthy districts as well as needier communities,” Elizabeth Lynam of the Citizens Budget Commission wrote in a post on the organization’s blog.
The $20.8 billion in formula-based aid for the 2013-14 school year is 4.7 percent higher — $937 million — than the current year. There is another $75 million to expand a competitive grant program and roughly $300 million for other program grants. That brings the total increase to $1.1 billion — 5.3 percent — the business-backed group said.
The growth violates an agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to tie school-aid hikes to the annual increase in personal income, according to the CBC. Had they stuck to the plan, school aid would have gone up by 3 percent.
“Unfortunately this school aid genie is likely to be hard to cram back in the bottle,” Lynam wrote in the blog post. “The State’s fiscal fortunes have not improved enough to return to a pattern of annual $1 billion school aid increases, but it will be hard to dampen the expectations of legislators and school district officials after this budget.”
While the average formula aid per student for the 2013-14 school year is $7,760, a $400 hike, but the funding isn’t spread evenly among school districts, the CBC said. The highest need districts will receive an increase of $814, or 5.9 percent, and the wealthiest districts will get modest increases. But the aid increases for districts in the middle range from 6.7 percent ($255) to 7.9 percent ($908), the group found.
“If New York State is to continue to improve its fiscal footing, then school aid allocations will need to be more disciplined next year,” Lynam wrote. “School aid is the largest single item in the state budget. Highly targeted, substantial increases for the less affluent districts are a better way to meet pressing needs without supersizing the out-year budget gaps.”
The group created an interactive map to show the increase in formula aid from the current school year to 2013-14.