Frustrations grow over school funding, budget cuts

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As the wait for a federal stimulus continues, school districts in New York continue to announce budget cuts. Students, parents, and teachers from across the Capital Region voiced frustrations Friday over school funding outside the State Capitol building.

“It’s crazy to me that casinos are being opened up, schools are being budget-cut. Like it just doesn’t make sense to us,” said Schenectady High School Senior Shazia Pirzada.

Analysis from the New York State Education Department shows about 57% of school funding comes from localities, 40% from the state, and 3% from the federal government. But, all of that varies from district to district.

“Many districts are much more dependent upon the state than others. For example, Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Albany, New York City, Yonkers, so when you take those cities into consideration, they are much more dependent and vulnerable when there are budget cuts from the state,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that without federal stimulus, state funding to schools will be cut by 20%.

“Districts right now are starting to put forward budget cuts and with that staffing cuts… the other night it was Schenectady cutting hundreds of positions,” Pallotta said. 

The House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which would provide additional funding for schools, but it has not passed the Senate.

“Pass the Heroes Act. If you’re not satisfied with the Heroes Act, come up with a plan that speaks to municipal assistance. Come up with a plan that speaks to our schools and opening our schools safely,” Congressman Paul Tonko said during a virtual press conference Friday.

The Governor has also spoken out against a FEMA policy going into effect on September 15 that restricts reimbursements for personal protective equipment to emergency work, saying it will “undermine efforts to fight COVID-19” in schools. 

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