Griffo: Budget Includes Nearly $23 Million Increase for Local Schools

ALBANY – Sen. Joseph A. Griffo said the 2014-15 state budget increases aid to schools in his district by $23.1 million.

“I believe our children deserve equal access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, what their parents earn or how much their home is worth,” said Griffo, R-Rome. “My hope is that this increase will help schools in my district retain programs that are vital to the creation of a well-rounded student.”

The $138 billion state budget includes $22 billion for education, an increase of $1.1 billion, or 5 percent, in comparison to the most recent fiscal year. Through advocacy, Griffo and his colleagues managed to secure an additional $300 million for schools over what Governor Cuomo had proposed.

Griffo heard from many school officials, parents and students that completely restoring the $2.8 billion taken during the Gap Elimination Adjustment was their top priority. This year’s budget restores an additional $550 million to schools.

The budget also recognizes the Board of Regents’ failed rollout of the Common Core curriculum. It ensures results from the upcoming Common Core tests in grades 4-8 won’t go into a student’s permanent record and delays, for two years, the use of Common Core tests to decide whether or not students in grades 3 through 8 should be promoted to the next grade.

The budget prohibits Common Core testing before third grade and includes increased funds for teacher development to help educators adjust to the new standards.

The budget also includes an additional $1 million for libraries, and $5 million more than the governor proposed.

Griffo acknowledged that the budget does not resolve all of the issues school districts face.

“Assemblyman Brindisi and I sponsor a bill that would require the state to fund any program which imposes a mandate upon a school district or municipality,” said Griffo. “I’m pleased that it passed the Senate last year and will advocate for its passage again this year. I hope this is the year the Assembly joins us in addressing the root cause of rising taxes.”