Survey Reveals NY Schools Will Be Unable to Sustain Educational Programming

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School Struggles Escalate Due to Lack of Government Aid

A Mid-Hudson School Study Council report shows that many New York State school districts are struggling to cope with the current economic landscape and are concerned about the future of public education.

In the Council’s recent survey, staggering findings show that 41% of respondents estimate that their districts will be close to both fiscal and educational insolvency within the next three years when analyzing current state aid trajectories.

“In sum, what has been lost by these struggling public school communities and their students cannot be retrieved, made whole or otherwise recouped,” MHSSC Executive Director Dr. Robert Dillon said. “Without significantly greater state support new instructional and reform initiatives will not take hold in average and below average wealth school districts.”

Key findings pinpoint schools’ top challenges:

•    64% of respondents said the actual amount of state aid was considered the biggest threat for public school districts in 2015-16 and beyond
•    69% of respondents asserted that the state government has not understood districts’ needs and is not delivering the fiscal support needed
•    77% of respondents believed that if current fiscal and educational trends continue, educational opportunities for students would be reduced in the school district’s next fiscal year budget

Lack of funding has adversely affected instructional support, since 2009-10, 83.5% of respondents eliminated up to 30 teaching positions, while 97.2% removed up to 30 teaching assistant positions and 96.2% eliminated up to 30 teacher aide positions. When examining class size, 54.5% of responding districts reported that their elementary programs sustained an increase in class size, while 49% of middle school programs reported the same result.  
Across the board, districts have also had to reduce special education offerings, student assistant services and Advanced Placement courses. In addition, high school electives, alternative education, interscholastic athletics and other supplemental programs have been cut as well.

The school district financial data provided in the survey suggests that there is considerable agreement statewide that the vast majority of responding districts are in a weakened state of fiscal, educational and professional health and that this decline will continue without immediate and targeted intervention.

The Mid-Hudson School Study Council, led by Executive Director Dr. Robert Dillon, aims to improve education through the cooperative study of common educational problems, effective diffusion of educational practices, and stimulation of active participation by districts utilizing research methodologies.  

The research study was conducted in November of 2014 collaboratively by MHSSC Executive Director Dr. Robert Dillon and Dr. Rick Timbs, Executive Director, Statewide School Finance Consortium. Completed surveys were submitted from Aug. 4 through Nov. 17, 2014. Responses were received by 40 percent of all districts (270 of 674) and 86 percent of all counties (49 of 57) in New York State.