ALBANY - Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean) has delivered more than $578.5 million in education aid to schools across her district in the 2014-15 state budget.
"The average education increase for my schools is 5.5 percent, higher than the statewide average of 5 percent. School aid increased by $30,305,892 in my Senate district. It is a big victory for our kids and property taxpayers," Senator Young said in a Sunday night press release.
Education funding is the largest growth component of the budget, with a $1.1 billion increase, taking the total to more than $25 billion statewide, according to Young.
"Our children deserve to have the best learning opportunities possible. Senate Republicans worked hard to increase school aid to give all students the opportunity to succeed," she said.
Senator Young said that rural districts especially are benefiting from the final budget.
"Overwhelmingly, our schools said they needed Gap Elimination Adjustment restorations as their number one priority. Senate Republicans listened, and we delivered.
"Senate Republicans' insistence on GEA relief for public schools during budget negotiations resulted in more than $602 million in GEA restorations.
"We proposed seven times more than Assembly Democrats and 86 percent more than Governor Cuomo in GEA reductions. This year's budget outcome is great progress towards resolving the serious GEA problem created in 2010 by the Democrats beholden to downstate interests. I voted against their GEA because it was such a destructive fiscal gimmick, and I have been working to get rid of it ever since.
"Because the Senate held firm, our schools will benefit greatly. I won't stop until the GEA is fully gone, and I am hopeful that with the advancements in this year's budget, we can end it next year," Young concluded.
Another development is that full-day pre-Kindergarten funding will be available as a local option to schools statewide.
Reforms made to Common Core will also alleviate the stress of students and parents, Senator Young said.
"I've heard from countless constituents who are concerned about the federal Common Core curriculum. The budget bans standardized 'bubble tests' for young children, prevents high stakes unfair test results from being used in grade promotion, ensures instructional time is used for learning and teaching and not over-testing, creates a Parents Bill of Rights, and protects students' privacy," she said.
The Senate also successfully pushed for funding for Teacher Centers to provide teachers with professional development resources to enhance students' classroom learning," Young said.