Leaders Form United Front for Full and Fair School Funding

KINGSTON – As State lawmakers enter the final weeks of budget negotiations, Senator Michelle Hinchey led a rally in partnership with Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), parents and superintendents from schools across the 41st Senate District to call for equitable public school funding amid $419 million in cuts proposed in the FY’25 Executive Budget, which would negatively affect all of the state’s nearly 700 school districts.

More than half of these cuts are targeted at districts classified as High Needs and would disproportionately impact small rural communities, exacerbating existing inequalities in educational resources. The Mid-Hudson region stands out as the most affected area compared to other regions in the state, facing a $31 million reduction (4.2%) in total funding. In Hinchey’s Senate District alone, these proposed cuts would translate to a loss of over $25.7 million.

Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha alongside NYSUT Presidents and Board Members, local teachers, parents, and Superintendents from Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, and Ulster counties.
Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha alongside NYSUT Presidents and Board Members, local teachers, parents, and Superintendents from Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, and Ulster counties.

In response, both the Senate and Assembly one-house budget proposals rejected all cuts to education funding. The Senate one-house restores the ‘hold harmless’ provision, which would ensure school districts receive no less funding than the previous year. The Senate one-house also proposes $747 million in total school aid, guaranteeing a minimum 3% increase for all districts and initiating a comprehensive review of the Foundation Aid formula to reevaluate how New York funds its public schools.

Lawmakers rallied in solidarity with local teachers representing many of the local schools.
Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Ensuring every child in New York State has equitable access to a quality public education means fully funding our schools. This is a right all children and families across our state deserve, and yet, the proposed abrupt changes to the school funding formula and subsequent detrimental cuts to education funding this year undermine this right. Our rural and Mid-Hudson Valley schools face the biggest cuts in the entire state; these are districts that have historically received inadequate Foundation Aid and cannot absorb the detrimental losses proposed without cutting curriculum or laying off staff. Out of 31 school districts in my district, all but six of them would face drastic cuts in funding, forcing them to make these decisions imminently. I’m proud that our Senate one-house not only rejects all cuts to education but proposes an increase for SD-41 schools. I will fight to deliver the funding our rural and upstate schools deserve and hold the line against these outrageously proposed cuts.”

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “As an Assemblymember representing a largely rural district, I have long advocated for modernizing the Foundation Aid formula, which hasn’t been changed since 2008. That said, the proposed formula and elimination of the ‘hold harmless’ provision would have had a devastating impact on most of the schools in my district — with some districts facing proposed cuts of more than 30%. I pushed back hard against these proposed cuts, and I am pleased that the Assembly’s one-house budget proposal fully funds Foundation Aid. As budget negotiations continue, I will fight to ensure Hudson Valley public schools get the appropriate funding and support they need.”

NYSUT President Melinda Person said, “Our students and educators deserve better than the executive budget’s education proposals. We have visited districts across the state, from Long Island to Western New York, the North Country to the Hudson Valley, to show the devastating impacts these cuts would have on our communities. We thank our allies in both houses of the Legislature who have rejected these short-sighted cuts, and we are working with them to ensure the final state budget includes the full funding that was promised.”

Kevin Castle, Superintendent of Schools, Wallkill Central School District, said, “I would like to thank Senator Hinchey and the Senate for their one house budget proposal, including but not limited to, restoring hold harmless, providing a minimum Foundation Aid increase of 3%, allocating money to SED to study changes to the Foundation Aid formula and funding the expansion of universal school meals. These proposals alone would significantly help Wallkill students and students in NYS.”

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