BY SAM RAPPAPORT
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) took part in a public hearing on Monday that examined how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2018-’19 executive budget would affect schoolchildren, teachers and parents in his district as well as the state’s entire educational system.
Both state and city education officials and advocates spoke at the State Capitol hearing for more than 10 hours in all.
“With the many economic uncertainties associated with federal tax reform, healthcare cuts and other actions expected to negatively impact our state’s fiscal condition, this will be a tough budget year in Albany as we face down a $4.4 billion deficit,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee. “But as always, providing opportunities for all of our schoolchildren to succeed in both the classroom and in their future adult lives is a top priority.”
Addabbo voiced uncertainty about a new proposal in the executive budget that would require the city and other school districts to submit a funding allocation statement to the State Education Department (SED) and Division of the Budget (DOB) for approval every year. The proposal is opposed by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia.
“I am concerned about giving two state entities veto power over educational funding plans for its individual schools, especially since we don’t know what criteria would be used for approval or disapproval, or what would happen if SED and DOB disagree,” Addabbo said. “I obviously believe any educational entity should be transparent and accountable in its funding decision, but I think this may be an overreach into educational decisions that should be made solely on the local level by those who are the most familiar with the challenges facing our 1.1 million students attending our 1,800-plus schools.”
Addabbo also took issue with the city’s continued use of trailers for classrooms, although Fariña noted that 159 out of 354 trailers have been removed since the 2014-2015 school year and the removal of 75 more is in progress.
“We obviously have more challenges ahead in improving the performance of individual schools in New York City, ensuring our children are taught in safe environments and increasing the number of classroom seats across the city,” Addabbo said, pointing to the fact that some of his local schools are the most overcrowded in the city. “But it appears that progress is being made, and I hope we will be able to provide the resources our schools need to keep moving forward.”
Reach reporter Sam Rappaport at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 123.