By Tom Momberg
The state Legislature passed a last-minute, end-of-session agreement to allocate $250 million to fund the costs of state mandates at secular, religious and independent schools throughout the state.
Private schools have been raising tuition, fund-raising with alumni and private donors or, like Jackson Heights’ Garden School in 2012, selling off parcels of land to make ends meet.
Non-public schools were owed about $225 million in delinquent reimbursements from the state Education Department as of 2014. The funds will be funneled to each private school in the state through the Comprehensive Attendance Policy program, or CAP, which has not been fully funded for over 10 years.
The money is meant to help private schools meet state education mandates in compliance with the Compulsory Attendance Law for health services, special education, transportation, dual enrollment, textbooks and the administration of state standardized tests.
The measure was pushed through with the support of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who said the chambers of the Legislature heard the concerns of several parents and religious leaders who described how the Compulsory Attendance Law is a financial drain on private institutions.
“While an agreement on the Education Tax Credit—a proposal to provide tax incentives for donations to both public and private schools—was unfortunately not reached, this $250 million will be very helpful to parochial schools, yeshivas, and other non-public schools in meeting expensive state mandates,” Addabbo said in a statement.
The quarter of a billion dollars will be appropriated to the schools from now through March 31, 2017.
New York City schools also received an increase of $505 million from the state budget, which Addabbo applauded along with the CAP funding as a big step forward to better fund schools for all children equally.
“While we still have a long way to go to fix the many problems in our education system, we still need—above all—to keep our eyes on the prize, making sure that every single child, no matter where they go to school, receives the best possible education and opportunity for adult success,” Addabbo said.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb