Teach NYS released the following statements in praise of the budget agreement between Governor Cuomo, the New York State Senate, and the New York State Assembly for the 2016-2017 year. The budget includes a series of funding allocations that represent significant victories for the state’s independent and religious schools. Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature are poised to pass a budget that will expand programs that serve as critical sources of aid for nonpublic schools across the state, and have appropriated funds to create a new Office of Religious and Independent Schools that will serve New York’s nonpublic schools for years to come.
These victories for nonpublic schools are the result of an OU – Teach NYS grassroots campaign that engaged thousands of Jewish families to advocate for New York’s yeshivas and Jewish day schools.
The substantial increases in funding build on earlier wins from last year, when OU – Teach NYS worked with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to finally deliver $250 million of long overdue payments for nonpublic schools. This aid was distributed to nonpublic schools, including Jewish day schools and yeshivas, that had previously suffered the effects of severe underfunding to state programs.
For the first time, New York State will create a new Office of Religious and Independent Schools and devote $2 million towards resources and grants in service of the state’s nonpublic and religious schools.
Albany will also increase security grants to nonpublic schools by $20 million over the next two years, financing vital protective measures like the hiring of personnel. A total of $30 million of this allocation will be distributed over the next two years, with $15 million in 2016-17 and $15 million in 2017-18.
Over the next two years, the Comprehensive Attendance Policy program, or CAP — which provides nonpublic schools with reimbursements for tracking and enforcing student attendance — is slated to receive a $60 million increase in state funding, with the first $30 million distributed this year.
“By creating an office dedicated to serving students in religious schools, the state has officially recognized the vital role that nonpublic schools play in educating and enriching New York’s children,” said Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union.“This is a victory that carries historic import and meaning for New York’s faith communities. We commend Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Flanagan, and Speaker Heastie for their leadership in delivering a budget that strengthens nonpublic schools, and legislators across the state who served as unyielding advocates for New York’s faith communities.”
“Next year, children in yeshivas and Jewish day schools across New York will be safer, smarter, and more secure,” said Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs for the Orthodox Union.
“OU – Teach NYS worked tirelessly this year to advocate for the needs of our member schools, and the results are a testament to the leadership of Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, and Speaker Heastie in fighting for the Jewish community.”
“We are particularly eager to work with the State Education Department’s new Office of Religious and Independent Schools to find immediate, impactful ways of strengthening STEM education in nonpublic schools,” continued Litwack. “And after helping hundreds of nonpublic schools in New York City fund security guards earlier this year, OU – Teach NYS built on this victory by urging legislators to devote an additional $20 million in nonpublic school security grants for the rest of the state — because parents in New York City aren’t the only ones concerned for their children’s safety.”
“OU – Teach NYS has been a critical advocate for nonpublic schools, articulating the role that they play in the state’s education system,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “I am proud to say that this budget will strengthen nonpublic schools across the state.”
“OU – Teach NYS made it clear to the Legislature this year that nonpublic schools needed resources to continue to thrive,” said
Senate Finance Committee Chair Catharine Young. “I’m glad they did, because today’s budget is stronger for their advocacy.”
“Throughout this budget process, OU – Teach NYS has worked on behalf of New York’s religious schools, speaking with a powerful and meaningful voice,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.
“New York’s faith communities play a vital role in the economy and culture of our state, and nonpublic school children deserve the same resources as their peers.”
“The students currently attending nonpublic schools across New York have the promise and potential to become our state’s future leaders,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder. “OU – Teach NYS has fought hard to make sure these children receive the resources they need to thrive, and my colleagues and I are proud to give them our support.”
“New York is home to diverse, vibrant communities, both secular and religious,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Jr.
“We owe it to these communities to support every child in New York State, no matter the zip code they live in or the faith their family practices. Thank you to OU-Teach NYS for the critical work they do to ensure all of our state’s students have a real chance.”
“Nonpublic schools are an essential part of New York’s educational landscape, providing families with the school options they need and teaching students who will go on to make a real difference in our state,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.“This is a community worth fighting for, and I commend OU – Teach NYS for leading such an important battle.”