NYSSBA executive director: ‘The federal government cannot let our schools fail’
By the New York State School Boards Association
Schools in New York state could be forced to cut tens of thousands of positions without additional federal funding for K-12 education, the New York State School Boards Association warned.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that New York schools could see a state aid reduction of 20%, or a staggering $5.5 billion decrease, due to the state’s economic losses resulting from the coronavirus. A loss of that magnitude would return state education aid to 2014 levels.
"Without immediate federal intervention, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic will land on the backs of our students," NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider said. "The quality of public education in all of our communities – urban, suburban and rural – is at stake."
Schneider called on Congress to provide an additional $200 billion in funding nationally for public schools. "Without additional federal stimulus funding for education, it will likely take our schools years to return to normal," he said.
Schneider pointed to the number of job losses that followed the 2008 stock market crash as an example of what could happen without additional federal funding. According to data from the State Education Department, between the 2008-09 and 2011-12 school years, school districts cut more than 20,000 professional staff, including teachers, psychologists, counselors and administrators through layoffs, attrition and early retirement.
From 2009-12, state aid to schools was cut by a combined $6.2 billion. While Congress helped relieve the impact of those state aid cuts with more than $4 billion in federal stimulus dollars, school districts responded by making program cuts and staff layoffs, negotiating contractual concessions and tapping into fund balances.
NYSSBA recently released a report describing how schools in New York coped with the challenges of reduced state aid brought on by the Great Recession.
"We are at a tipping point. School districts across the state are finalizing their local budgets. The federal government cannot let our schools fail," Schneider said.
The New York State School Boards Association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York. NYSSBA provides advocacy, training and information to school boards in support of their mission to govern the state's public schools.