WSWHE chief school officers’ 2022 legislative priorities

Component school districts in the WSWHE BOCES, including Schuylerville, have established a set of regional advocacy priorities for the legislative session.

2022-23 School Aid

Districts around the state, including those in the WSWHE BOCES region, were appreciative of the efforts of the legislature to secure a significant increase in school aid, including a real step towards the full enactment of the Foundation Aid Formula. Given the demographics of our districts we were thrilled that the package included a due minimum increase for all districts, and that calculation of that increase included a sparsity factor; as well as the full funding of expense based aids. In the 2022-23 budget cycle, we encourage you to continue many of those trends. While many districts in our region have experienced enrollment loss, that does not necessarily equate cost savings. Districts of all sizes continue to have fixed cost drivers, such as step and lane increases, benefits and pensions. Moreover, like schools all over the state, the needs of the students we are serving continue to be more complex, with increasing social-emotional needs. To ensure that all students continue to be supported, we ask that you include the following in the next state budget:

  • Include a due minimum increase for all districts, regardless of Foundation Aid phase-in level.
  • Maintain a “save-harmless” provision to ensure a stable funding baseline.
  • Fully fund expense based aids.

We request that these provisions be included in the 2022-23 school aid package.

Building Aid for Small Capital Projects

Current law allows school districts to make one “capital outlay” annually. What this means is that they may conduct one project that has a cost of $100,000 or less and is paid for in cash each year. Because these projects do not require voter approval or borrowing, they can be completed quickly and efficiently. Districts then receive their total building aid on the full project in the next year, rather than over the assumed amortization schedule
applied to bonded capital projects. Because districts do not borrow for these projects, the state and local taxpayers do not incur the additional cost of interest associated with bonding. The current threshold limit of $100,000 was established in 2002 and has not increased since. Raising the threshold amount to $250,000 would more accurately reflect the cost of small projects in the current fiscal environment and allow districts to continue to make ongoing capital improvements through this process. We request that the threshold be increased from $100,000 to $250,000 in 2022.

Increase the $30,000 cap on BOCES Aid for Career and Technical Education Teacher Salaries

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide students with essential skills that prepare them for college and careers. However, the existing state aid formula for CTE programs operated by BOCES only provides aid for the first $30,000 of a BOCES instructor’s salary. Although the average salary of a CTE teacher is now $65,000 and must be increased to ensure that students have access to the CTE pathway by increasing the amount of CTE teacher salary that is aidable. We request that the aidable salary cap for BOCES CTE teachers be increased as part of the 2022 state budget.