Robert Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, said Wednesday that payments to schools during the quieter summer months amount to about $1 billion. Over the full school year, it will end up totaling about $27 billion – and the big flow of cash from Albany to the districts is set to come at the end of September.
Still, the recent drip, drip, drip of cuts so far from Albany are, Lowry said, “alarming as an indication of what could be in store for schools.”
Further, schools don’t know if the cuts so far will be temporary or permanent. They also don’t know if the cuts will be made across-the-board, which could have far more devastating impacts on less wealthy and poorer school districts in urban and rural areas, or be done on some kind of wealth-based need formula.
Lowry said school superintendents and other school leaders have been all-consumed with reopening plans and have had little time to spend on financial matters out of Albany. But as the state’s finances are now driving direct aid cuts to schools, Lowry said the situation could also make some districts re-think whether to open up their doors for in-person learning in September.
“They might say all of this we have put together in our (reopening) plans is no longer possible,” Lowry said.
The fiscal situation left the New York State United Teachers, the politically potent union that represents teachers across the state, to call on Cuomo and lawmakers to raise taxes on “ultrawealthy” New Yorkers and tap deeper into rainy day funds. Cuomo has opposed raising taxes on wealthy residents, saying any such tax efforts should be done on a federal basis.