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School budget, board elections being held across NY Tuesday

KWS Bear Road Elementary School cafeteria.
Ava Pukatch
KWS Bear Road Elementary School cafeteria.

New Yorkers will head to voting booths Tuesday for school district budget votes, and some districts might have higher budgets than usual this year.

The recently enacted state budget is providing an unprecedented $34.5 billion in school funding for public education, charter schools and SUNY and CUNY institutions. The funding also fulfills the settlement that required the main source of public school funding, state Foundation Aid, to be fully funded by 2024.

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director for Advocacy, Research & Communications at New York’s Council of School Superintendents, is an expert in school finances. He said districts should not get too used to the increase in aid.

“The federal aid is running out, that was not permanent recurring funding, and the future increases in Foundation Aid will moderate significantly after this,” Lowry said.

While the increase in funding may not last, costs are continuing to rise across districts. Lowry said increasing costs and hiring competition are having some of the largest impacts on district finances. The main thing increases in aid are helping - student services like after-school programs and mental health resources.

“These last couple years with the federal COVID relief aid and this increase in Foundation Aid, you do find superintendents saying ‘Yes, we will be able to improve quite a few types of student services,’” Lowry said.

He said this often makes for happier districts.

“We never used to have a majority of superintendents saying ‘Our budget this year will have a positive impact,” Lowry said.

Looking beyond this year’s budget vote, Lowry said districts should proceed with caution.
“School districts do need to be more careful in making commitments and planning for the future,” Lowry said.

Voters are encouraged to visit their district's web page to view budget details and voting information.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.