Earlier this week Governor Cuomo released his 2021-22 executive budget. Despite facing huge deficits due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the yeshiva and non-public school community were spared major cuts.
As a result of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations act (CRRSA), recently enacted by the federal government, $248 million dollars was made available to non-public schools. As a result, funding parity for non-public schools and school districts were maintained, as reductions were limited to 2%, the same level as school districts. This is in line with the Agudah’s long time mantra of pushing for equality not special treatment.
Specifically, Mandated Services (MSA) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) were funded at $189 million, a slight reduction from last year. The STEM reimbursement allocation was reduced from $30 million to 29.4 million. Academic Intervention for Nonpublic Schools (AIS) was funded at $904 thousand, and Nonpublic School Safety and Equipment (NPSE) was retained at its previous level of funding at $15 million.
More importantly, schools were held harmless for aid losses due to school closures in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19. This has been a major legislative priority for Agudath Israel.
The governor’s executive budget is the first step in the process as both houses of the legislature have to vote on a final budget agreement before April 1.
In a statement, Mr. Shlomo Werdiger, chairman of Agudath Israel’s Board of Trustees, thanked the governor saying, “We are extremely thankful to Governor Cuomo for not overlooking the needs of the non-public school community despite the large deficits incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“We were particularly pleased that our schools – who work so hard in educating their students – were held harmless for school closure and that other allocations were kept close to previous years. We will continue to work with our friends in the legislature and the executive office to hold the line on any further reductions and should additional federal funds or other revenue sources become available, to pass on accordingly.” added Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, director of New York Government Relations.