School leaders grateful for increased education aid

School officials throughout the area got some good news as they were starting their spring break last week, but many feel the increase in educational aid is still insufficient.

At the 11th hour on March 30, an additional $226 million in education aid was added to the proposed 2018-19 spending plan shortly before it was passed by the Legislature and touted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a nearly $1 billion increase in funding over 2017-18.

The grand total in state school aid for 2018-19 is $26.7 billion, a 3.9 percent increase — or $995 million — over the 2017-18 total of $25.7 million.

“The governor, because he’s so committed to education, proposed a budget with an increase of 3 percent,” said Morris Peters, spokesman for the state Division of Budget. “Working with our partners in government, we were able to land at a place where the increase in 3.9 percent.”

He said in order to accommodate increases in education and Medicaid, almost all other programs had to be kept flat or even see some decreases.

The education total includes about $700,000 in categorical grants and competitive aid categories, which Peters said have yet to be distributed.

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