Budget Presentation: 2024-25 Executive Budget Proposal and State Aid Projections

At the Jan. 30 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Andrew Van Alstyne gave a presentation on Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2024-25 Executive Budget Proposal and state aid projections. The presentation generally covers the technical side of state aid, how it will affect the Guilderland Central School District, and its impact statewide in regards to state education funding. However, the governor made a significant curriculum proposal this year that will affect early literacy instruction, which Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Rachel Anderson provided an overview of to the board following Dr. Van Alystne’s presentation.

It’s important to note that the executive budget is a proposal; this means that the amounts contained in the budget are not final state aid numbers. The figures used in Dr. Van Alstyne’s presentation provides an estimate as to what GCSD can expect to receive in Foundation Aid and state funding.

GCSD and the 2024-25 Executive Budget Proposal

Dr. Van Alystne’s presentation focused on three aspects of the executive budget proposal that could have a significant impact on the 2024-25 GCSD budget: changes to the Foundation Aid formula, the effect of expense-based aids on total state aid received, and the state mandate on zero-emission school buses.

Foundation Aid


Foundation Aid is one of the main funding sources for New York State (NYS) school districts, accounting for “nearly 70% of total school aid,” according to the New York State School Boards Association. Foundation Aid was created with a mandate that the state should provide sufficient yearly funding to ensure every child has access to a high-quality education and are afforded the opportunities and assistance needed to achieve lifetime success. The state calculates Foundation Aid using a research-based formula that factors in the cost to successfully educate students, additional funding for high-needs students, while adjusting for local fiscal capacity. This is the first year all school districts in NYS have received their full Foundation Aid after Governor Hochul’s commitment to fully fund the measure back in October 2021; the three-year phase-in plan was completed last budget cycle. However, the governor has proposed two major changes to fully fund Foundation Aid that would significantly affect school districts across the state and their abilities to provide essential educational services.


Under the governor’s current proposal, statewide total school aid is expected to increase by $825 million, which is far less than the record $3.1 billion approved last year by New York State. The biggest increase is to expense-based aid at 3.2% ($318 million), while Foundation Aid is expected to increase by 2.1% ($507 million); GCSD is anticipating to receive an increase of approximately $1.3 million in Foundation Aid. The considerable decrease can be attributed to the governor’s proposed changes to the Foundation Aid formula, which include ending the practice of save harmless and modifying how inflation is applied to the final aid amount.

Save harmless is a longstanding policy NYS has used to hold school districts harmless – or save harmless – from loss, ensuring they don’t receive less aid the next school year compared to the previous one. While this isn’t relevant to GCSD and will have little effect on the district’s 2024-25 budget, it’s important to note since this will have a considerable impact on a number of school districts across the state, mainly in rural and small communities. Declining enrollment in these school districts has been one of leading causes since most were fully funded prior to the Foundation Aid phase-in. Eliminating save harmless would put these school districts in serious financial straits and significantly affect future statewide education funding.

Part of the Foundation Aid formula accounts for inflation, which currently uses data from the previous year as a determining factor. In contrast, the governor’s proposal would calculate inflation by taking the average of the last 10 years, then dropping the highest and lowest figures. Using numbers from the governor’s executive budget proposal, Dr. Van Alstyne illustrated the effect this would have on the 2024-25 GCSD budget. He projected GCSD to receive about $25.9 million in Foundation Aid before the governor’s adjustment, compared to $25.6 million under her proposal. This results in a $326,000 gap in funding, which would have a meaningful impact on the district’s budget development.

At this stage in the budget development process, state aid amounts are estimated and not guaranteed. These amounts are subject to change based on actual data once the budget is passed by the NYS legislature.

Effect of expense-based aid on total state aid received

While the governor hasn’t proposed any changes to expense-based aid, the allocation of UPK funding has the potential to affect the total amount of state aid GCSD receives for the 2024-25 school year. In his presentation, Dr. Van Alstyne included a slide that broke down the various aid included in the district’s 2023-24 budget; the slide compared the amounts from the previous budget cycle to the figures in the governor’s proposal. Dr. Van Alstyne expressed caution when looking at the total state aid numbers for this year since they aren’t fully reflective of the actual amount of aid the district gets. This is due to how UPK funding is appropriated, which is made on a slot basis. Last year, the district received about $1.5 million in UPK aid, however GCSD didn’t have the capacity to accommodate the total number of slots awarded; it was also unable to find community partners to help fill the slots. Based on district filings for this school year, Dr. Van Alstyne stated GCSD actually received a total of $626,000 in UPK aid. Despite this, the governor’s current proposal includes the same $1.5 UPK allocation, resulting in almost a $2 million increase in overall aid for GCSD.

State mandate on zero-emission school buses

Part of the state’s 2022-23 budget included a mandate requiring all new buses sold in NYS to be zero-emission by 2027, and all buses on the road to be zero-emission by 2035. In November 2022, NY voters approved an Environmental Bond Act totaling over $4 billion, with $500 million designated for zero-emission school buses. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is also providing funding for the transition through the New York State Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP) to help offset some of the additional costs electric school buses can have compared to traditional. For example, if GCSD were to purchase a new bus, the sticker price on the electric model would most likely be higher than a traditional school bus. The district would then receive a voucher that offsets a portion of the price gap, with state aid applied only to what the district actually pays. The governor’s executive budget proposal would allow a school district to receive aid on the voucher amount up to the net cost of the bus.

While the funding from the 2022 Environmental Bond Act and NYSBIP will help alleviate some of the costs that come with the transition to zero-emission school buses, Dr. Van Alstyne emphasized two disclaimers. First, this is a proposal, so it’s unknown at this time what will actually become law. Second, there’s a tremendous amount of infrastructure that would need to take place to facilitate the transition. For example, an electric school bus can’t just be plugged into a standard electrical outlet; charging stations specifically designed for electric buses would have to be built. Because of these disclaimers, GCSD is looking into conducting a fleet transition study to help the district understand its specific road map regarding the transition.

“Back to Basics”- Literacy Instruction and Best Practices

A key component of Governor Hochul’s executive budget proposal is the “Back to Basics” program, which encompasses best practices for early literacy instruction. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Rachel Anderson provided an overview of this curriculum proposal to the Board, which seeks to require the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to establish new instructional best practices for teaching reading to students in grades PreK-3. The practices must be evidence-based, scientifically-based, focused on reading competency and align with the Culturally Responsive Sustaining Framework. Moreover, these practices have to be identified and established no later than July 1, 2024. Under the curriculum proposal, school districts would be required to review their instructional plans annually to ensure they align with best practices. Districts would also be required to certify that their curriculum/instructional strategies and professional development coincide with the best practices annually, beginning in September 2025. The proposal also includes a $10 million investment to support training through the New York State United Teachers Education and Learning Trust for 20,000 elementary teachers and teaching assistants throughout NYS.

It’s unknown what NYSED will produce as far as best practices, however GCSD has gained insight into what they could potentially be through recently published literacy briefs. The briefs are based on six different components of evidence-based instruction that include a strong emphasis on discreet instruction in phonics, vocabulary, phonemic awareness and comprehension. For the past year, GCSD has been working with the elementary literacy instruction group to develop an in-house curriculum that’s aligned to some of these best practices. The district is poised to stay on track for the development of their best practices in order to meet the July 1st deadline, should the proposal become law.

Superintendent’s draft budget proposal will be shared March 5, 2024

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles will present the first draft of the budget for 2024-2025 at the Mar. 5, 2024 Board of Education meeting. This draft budget is subject to revision but will provide the Board of Education with a document to work from before adopting a final budget at the April 16, 2024 meeting.

Important upcoming dates

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