New advocacy initiative successfully advocates for increased funding for every NY Jewish day school.
Today, the OU-Teach NYS Initiative applauded the New York State legislature for increasing state funding for private schools by $14 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. This funding increase will bring million of dollars in new resources to NYS Jewish schools.
The final budget bill, which is anticipated to pass both chambers this week, increases funding for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) to more than $43 million this year, a 31% increase over last year (more than $10 million). This is a more than 50% increase over the average CAP funding for the past four years ($29 million).
The budget bill also increases Mandated Services Reimbursement to $94 million - $4 million more than what the state owes private schools for MSR. This move acknowledges the state’s $32 million debt to private schools from underfunding MSR between 2008 and 2011. It is a welcome first step in paying its commitment to our schools.
In total, funding for CAP and MSR increased by 35% over last year. Additionally, $4.5 million in security funding was made available.
Over the last twelve months, the OU expanded its advocacy in Albany by forging a new partnership with Teach-NYS and a group of New York’s Jewish Day Schools to create a more effective advocacy effort. Schools partnering with the OU in advocacy include Manhattan Day School, SAR, Westchester Day School, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, Solomon Schechter School of Long Island, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Ramaz and Yeshiva of Flatbush.
The OU-Teach NYS initiative made the CAP and Mandated services funding its top priority and immediately set out to educate, train and activate its grassroots network to advocate for this important cause. The initiative worked in close collaboration with the UJA Federation of NY to both advocate in Albany and host joint communal events and a school leadership mission to Albany.
The OU-TEACH NYS Initiative and the UJA Federation of NY worked until the last few days of these budget negotiations, including hosting a conference call with Sen. John Flanagan and Asm. Phil Goldfeder to update Jewish day school leadership on the negotiations.
Jeff Leb, Political Director of the OU-TEACH NYS Initiative, stated:
“CAP and MSR have been underfunded by the state for almost a decade. In the past 10 years, the state has accumulated a $211 million debt to private schools from CAP and MSR. We are grateful to our legislators, school presidents, and community leaders for making this unprecedented increase to CAP and MSR possible.”
Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs and Outreach, stated:
“This increase to CAP and MSR will have a big impact on school budgets and their bottom line. This legislative success – which we accomplished in a short time – is the beginning of what we hope to accomplish through effective and collaborative grassroots advocacy in New York.”
The OU-Teach NYS Initiative would like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Co-Leader Dean Skelos and Senate Majority Co-Leader Jeff Klein for ensuring that the needs of the private school community remained a priority.
We would also like to thank Senate Education Chairman John Flanagan, Senator Simcha Felder, Senator Marty Golden, Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Assembly Member Michael Cusik, Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, Assembly Member Alan Maisel, Assembly Member Nily Rozic, Assembly Member Michael Simanowitz, Assembly Member Helene Weinstein, and Assembly Member Harvey Weisenberg who were all very involved in making sure that debt owed to private schools was not forgotten about.
In addition, these accomplishments would not be possible without the support of Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Addabbo, Carlucci, Dilan, Hassell-Thompson, Kennedy, Latimer, Rivera, Smith and Squadron, and Assembly Members Abbate Jr., Braunstein, Brindisi, Buchwald, Camara, Colton, DenDekker, Espinal Jr., Hikind, Jacobs, Kavanagh, Lavine, Lentol, Maliotakis, Paulin, Pretlow, Rosenthal, Ryan, Skoufis, Solages, Weprin and Zebrowski.
In the coming months and years, the OU-TEACH NYS Initiative hopes to also:
- Obtain state funding for security improvements to private schools;
- Increase state funding for private school transportation; and
- Create a tax credit scholarship program for low- and middle-income students, similar to existing ones in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.