New York State Aid – Foundation Aid Plan
The 2021-2022 enacted state budget included language stating that, for the 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years, each school district receiving a Foundation Aid Increase of more than 10% or $10,000,000 in any given school year must post a plan of how the funds will be used to address student performance and need. It was in 2021 that the state implemented a three year plan to fully fund the foundation aid due to school districts annually. The three year phase in resulted in increases for the Menands UFSD that are long overdue. These increases will come to an end after the three years of catch up.
Foundation Aid is a primary source of state funding for public schools. A Foundation Aid Formula was created in 2006 establishing a calculation of proper apportionment to each of the state’s more than 600 public school districts. Since established this aid has not been held to the formula, rather it has been frozen or has been incremented slightly over the past several decades. Public school districts have never been made whole to this formula since it was set into law. Menands was the lowest funded district in the state receiving only 30% of what we were due under the formula.
Menands School along with our neighboring districts have advocated tirelessly with our elected officials to get what was rightfully owed to us. Ultimately our efforts were effective. The battle over equitably funding education came to an end in 2021 when lawmakers agreed to fully restore school district Foundation Aid over the next three years. This plan calls for foundation aid to be phased In over the three years, bringing school districts up to where the aid should be by year three or the 2023-24 budget year. The initial 2021-22 school year of this three year phase-in provided New York State public schools 60% of the Foundation Aid’s true formula calculation. Districts were promised 50% more and in the year 2022-23 with full Foundation Aid scheduled to be restored in the year 2023-24. Adding to this phase-in is the fact that Menands has had an increase in student population while the aid has been stalled. We have spent years working hard to balance a budget, and live within our means while we have increased our student body, increased our needs and increased our expenses. The foundation aid Increase for the 2022-2023 school year is $277,702
What does this mean to Menands?
The Foundation Aid will help to right-size our revenue to cover anticipated expenses, lessening the need to utilize additional fund balance. This aid will catch Menands up to the budget level necessary to support our increased enrollment. While Foundation Aid has remained steady, our enrollment has increased significantly, and in particular our number of special education students and students experiencing homelessness. While our services have kept up with the needs of the community, our expenses have risen each year. In the past several years, state aid and local tax funds have not provided adequate revenue to offset expenses, causing the district to continually need to rely on fund balance to fill the gap.
Menands is committed to increasing graduation rates and eliminating the achievement gap, we will:
- Provide high school choice and pay the tuition for those choices to allow families to select the option which best meets the individual needs of their children.
- Retain staff and programs to accelerate student achievement and close learning gaps by providing additional Instructional assistance in the classroom.
- Retain staff by affording contractual increases in insurance costs.
Menands is committed to providing support for students who are not meeting, or who are at risk of not meeting, state learning standards in core academic subject areas, we will:
- Continue the practice of small class sizes.
- Continue to provide academic intervention programs and enrichment for our at risk student population as determined through local assessments and progress monitoring, as well as teacher recommendations.
Menands is committed to addressing social emotional health and insuring a safe and healthy learning environment by:
• Continuing to maintain a full-time school counselor.
• Adding a full-time custodial position.
• Upgrading building and grounds to create address safety and wellbeing.
Menands is committed to providing adequate resources to English language learners, students with disabilities and students experiencing homelessness, we will:
- Provide adequate resources to our English language learners and their families, including increased staffing.
- Continue to have an administrator assigned to meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations: the Coordinator of PPS, who also provides services as a school psychologist.
- Coordinate and secure out of district special education placements to meet individual student needs.
- Provide additional supports to our significantly increased number of students in transitional housing, in addition to the programs and services afforded to all students.
Menands 2022-23 budget, and in particular the increase in Foundation Aid will be used to offset the following costs:
- Add a Custodial Worker position for cleaning, maintenance, and safety of our upgraded facility: $31,200.
- Continue and increase the services under our intermunicipal agreement with a neighboring district to provide computer support and network security: $26,000.
- Cover increasing health insurance costs, including providing the benefit to new hires, and hourly staff to increase retention $170,000.
- Equipment purchases to address facility, plant, health and safety needs: $51,000.
Community Input was provided during public meetings and workshops as part of the 2022-2023 Budget development Process:
This spending plan and foundation aid phase-in was discussed during the 2022-2023 Budget Committee where attendees were given opportunity to ask questions and provide comments and input. Meetings were held on February 14, March 14, April 5, April 11, April 21, and the Budget Hearing was conducted May 9.
Mr. Jeffrey Masline, Board Representative
Mr. Bill Nevins, Board Representative
Mrs. Courtney Jaskula, Board Representative
Mr. John Diefenderfer, Board Representative
Mrs. Andi Delancy, Board Representative
Mr. Elango Ramen, Board Representative
Dr. Maureen A. Long, Superintendent
Mrs. Kathleen Cietek, School Business Administrator
Mrs. Jennifer Cannavo, Building Principal
Mrs. Megan Widrick, Coordinator of PPS
Various members of the public in attendance both in person and virtually.
All relevant information was posted to the webpage, including copies of presentations and recordings of meetings, along with contact information provided to summit additional comments from members of the public. The information herein was shared in a public board meeting on June 8, 2021 and at the Public Hearing dated May 10, 2022, at which time public comment was facilitated.