School District Appeals for Federal Aid
By Peter Jovanovich
Dr. Eric Byrne, Superintendent of the Rye City School District, has urged parents and other members of the Rye community to advocate for Federal money to help New York State’s public schools.
“We need Congress to approve additional education relief funding to New York to fill the gap in the state budget,” wrote Byrne in an April 27 email to parents. “The Board of Education has put together an advocacy letter for our community members to send to Federal legislators.”
The letter, addressed to Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressmembers Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, expresses thanks for the support to NY State from The Cares Act “that essentially freezes current levels of support for our public schools.” However, as the letter asserts, “New York State needs a minimum Federal infusion of $10 to $15 billion dollars to adequately support schools . . . Absent this amount, the New York State Budget Director will almost certainly have to make mid-year cuts to school aid on or about May 1 and throughout the fiscal year.”
The Rye City School District has received between $3.7 and $3.9 million in State aid over the last few years. State aid for education has increased annually by approximately 2.0 to 2.5 percent. In the 2015-16 school year, it increased by 4.4 percent.
Congress is faced with multiple demands from New York State, which seeks $3.9 billion in aid for the MTA, and, most recently, Democrats in Congress are calling for the Federal government to pick up almost all Medicaid costs for one year. For New York State alone, that’s approximately $30 billion.
According to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Congress is deadlocked over these and other demands from the states, as well as concerns about the explosion in Federal debt.