ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Part of the 2023 New York State Budget includes a record $31.5 billion in total school aid for the 2023 school year, the highest level of state aid ever, and $8.2 billion in support for higher education.

“The opportunity to pursue a quality education is the silver bullet for so many New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “With this budget we are going to unleash the power of higher education to lift up the people of our state by investing in our institutions and our teachers. Thanks to the help of Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie, this unprecedented level of funding will broaden access to opportunity in New York and build the education system of the future.”    

A breakdown of education funding includes:

Historic Education Funding

The Budget is providing $31.5 billion in total school aid for school year 2023, representing a year-to-year increase of $2.1 billion, or 7.2%, compared to the 2022 school year. It includes a $1.5 billion, or 7.7%, Foundation Aid increase.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten

The budget increases the state’s annual investment in pre-kindergarten to $1.1 billion, an increase of $125 million, or 13%. With the funding, school districts will be able to provide access to high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten across the state for approximately 17,500 additional four-year-old children.

Special Education Support

An additional $240 million in new funds is being provided to approved special education schools. The new funding for the education of children with disabilities is accompanied by greater financial and operational flexibility in the schools to meet student needs.

Academic and Mental Health Support

The budget includes a total of $100 million of matching funds over two years to be provided to school districts and BOCES with the highest needs to address student wellbeing and learning loss in response to the trauma brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes support for extended school day or school year programs, afterschool programs, mental health professionals and other locally determined initiatives.  

Recruiting and Retaining Teachers

The budget includes funding for new initiatives centered around expanding the workforce for teachers, as well as expanding the means by which professionals from other careers may become teachers.  

The budget creates a state teacher residency program to bring more teachers into schools sooner while providing greater opportunity for support and training. The state will also expand alternative teacher certification programs, such as the New York City Teaching Collaborative, to make it easier and more appealing for professionals in other careers to become teachers. Aspiring teachers would apprentice in high-need school districts while pursuing a master’s degree in their field. 

The budget includes initiatives to upskill current paraprofessionals and teaching assistants. There are more than 100,000 paraprofessionals and teaching assistants in New York State schools—a number that is rapidly rising. The budget will provide grants for paraprofessionals who remain employed in a school district to pursue a teaching degree. School districts would be required to pair candidates with professional mentors. 

In order to bolster the workforce and address the teacher shortage, the budget will temporarily waive the income cap for certain retirees. There are 169,000 retired New York State Teachers. Certain retirees would have the $35,000 limit removed, incentivizing teachers and other school workers to rejoin the workforce. 

Green Education 

The budget requires that all new school bus purchases be zero emissions by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero emissions by 2035. The budget will provide $500 million through the Environmental Bond Act to support school districts in purchases of zero-emission buses and related charging infrastructure including charging stations. School districts will be authorized to lease or finance zero-emission buses for 12 years, more than double the current five-year limitation for diesel buses, in order to help districts meet this goal.

The Clean Green Schools initiative provided in the “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” will serve more than 1,000 public schools and benefit nearly 1 million students. The program will drive infrastructure upgrades, such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar, green roofs, and indoor air quality/ventilation.

SUNY and CUNY Operating Support

Governor Hochul is providing more than $500 million in new SUNY and CUNY operating support. The increase includes money for both systems and greater support for students across the state, including $68 million of one-time debt service relief for the three SUNY teaching hospitals.    

New Faculty

The budget provides SUNY and CUNY with $106 million—$53 million for each system—to hire additional full-time faculty at both four-year colleges and community colleges. The investment will fund additional full-time faculty— at SUNY and CUNY, including support for CUNY’s plan to convert adjuncts to full-time faculty. The budget also includes a $110 million increase to fund fringe benefits for SUNY and CUNY staff.  

Strategic Investments

The budget allocates $100 million for nonrecurring strategic investments—$60 million for SUNY and $40 million for CUNY—to improve academic programs, increase enrollment, enhance student support services and modernize operations.  

New Capital Support for SUNY and CUNY Facilities

The budget invests $2.2 billion in new state-funded appropriations for capital projects at SUNY and CUNY—$1.2 billion for SUNY’s State-operated campuses, $879 million for CUNY’s senior colleges and $102 million for community colleges across the State.   

Part-Time TAP

The budget includes $150 million to expand the Part-time Tuition Assistance Program to support part-time students in degree-seeking programs and non-degree training programs at community colleges.   

Supporting Community Colleges

The budget includes a funding floor to protect community colleges from the loss of over $80 million in funding from declining enrollment.    

Expanded Opportunity Programs for Students

The budget includes a $30 million increase in funding for higher education opportunity programs and training centers to ensure those students who face academic and economic challenges are positioned for success.   

Expanded Childcare on Campus

The budget includes $15.6 million in start-up funding to establish childcare centers on all remaining SUNY and CUNY campuses in order to expand access to higher education for more individuals.