Budget increases state aid to schools by $1.4B

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State lawmakers passed a controversial 2015-16 budget overnight. The budget increased state aid to schools by $1.4 billion. Overall, they will now receive $23.5 billion.

Educators, parents and community members have been vocal in their fight against Governor Cuomo’s education agenda.

Public school teachers could be paying the price for a boost in public education spending. New testing and evaluations could cost some teachers their raises, or even their jobs.

Educators can now be fired if they’re found ineffective three years in a row.  Teacher evaluations will be based partly on student test scores.  They will also be based on classroom observation of teachers by a school administrator and by an independent evaluator.

WNY Assembly votes for bill- “Enacts into law major components of legislation necessary to implement the education, labor and family assistance budget for state fiscal year 2015 – 2016.”

Assemblymember John Ceretto, Niagara Falls: No

Assemblymember Jane Corwin, Clarence: No

Assemblymember David DiPietro, East Aurora: No

Assemblymember Stephen Hawley, Albion: No

Assemblymember Michael Kearns, West Seneca: No

Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Buffalo: Yes

Assemblymember Sean Ryan, Buffalo: Yes

Assemblymember Robin Schimminger, Buffalo: Yes

Assemblymember Raymond Walter, Williamsville: No

Assemblymember Angela Wozniak, Cheektowaga: No

Some school officials say lawmakers needed to take a look inside schools to see the issues before the evaluation overhaul was put in place.

Riverside High School teacher Marc Bruno said Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers seem to be missing the mark in their efforts to reform public education.

“If they are not addressing attendance, if they are not addressing the fact that we have more and more students from all over the world coming to Buffalo who simply speak little or no English — it is not the DaVinci Code why some of these schools are failing,” he said.

Buffalo Sen. Marc Panepinto accused lawmakers favoring education reform of scapegoating teachers. Panepinto was also among critics of the budget deal for failing to raise the minimum wage, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

“This budget could have dealt with raising the minimum wage, it could have dealt with paid family leave, but it chose not to, and it chose to scapegoat teachers in the process,” Panepinto said.

The criticism was bi-partisan, with Assemblyman Walter also deriding the spending priorities.

“There’s tax breaks for Hollywood moguls and video software and music producers, but there’s no tax breaks for the deli on Main Street, the small business down the road,” added Walter.


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