Assemblywoman Buttenschon Helps Pass 2021-22 State Budget That Provides Critical Support to Mohawk Valley Schools

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica/Rome) announced that she helped pass a final budget that boosts funding for local schools, provides significant support to prekindergarten programs and includes important mental health resources to help students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This past year forced our students and teachers to make unimaginable sacrifices and quickly adjust to a brand new style of learning and communicating unlike anything many of them have experienced before,” Buttenschon said. “It’s been my top priority to help our students safely return to in-person learning and provide our schools with the resources they need. From fully phasing in Foundation Aid to funding pre-K programs that propel our kids toward a bright future, I fought to ensure the state budget invests in our education system and gives our students and teachers the support they need and deserve.”

The final budget provides $3.1 billion more in state funding for the 2021-22 school year over last year, including an increase of $1.4 billion for Foundation Aid for a total of $19.8 billion. Buttenschon has been a staunch advocate for fully funding the Foundation Aid formula and fought to ensure Mohawk Valley schools got their fair share of funding this year. The budget commits to fully funding Foundation Aid over the next three years, with school districts receiving at least 60% of their Foundation Aid funding for the 2021-22 school year. This funding will be critical in helping our schools lower class sizes, manage COVID-related safety issues, offer mental health resources and provide enrichment programs for students, Buttenschon noted.

Buttenschon also fought to include an increase of $105 million for Universal Prekindergarten statewide, for a total of $924 million. A portion of this funding will be allocated to low- and medium-wealth school districts with a low number of state-funded prekindergarten slots. The final budget also includes a measure to require mental health training for teachers to help ensure they have the tools and skills necessary to help our young minds cope with the isolation and learning difficulties they experienced during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, the final budget:

  • Makes transportation costs related to delivering food, educational materials and internet connectivity as well as district transportation standby costs reimbursable during the COVID-19 pandemic through May 7, 2020;
  • Restores funding to many critical programs for educators;
  • Provides $15 million for a new digital inclusion program to address the statewide digital equity gap;
  • Increases funding by $2 million for 4201 schools, which serve blind and deaf students, as well as restores funding for numerous other student programs;
  • Adds $250,000 for dyslexia screenings; and
  • Includes a $500,000 increase for Independent Living Centers.