#childsafety | Cuomo proposes $826M in new school aid

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— Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a roughly 3 percent increase in school aid funding, less than last year’s proposal — and his own administration’s projection in the mid-year budget update.

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— The state Department of Health is investigating a “cancer occurrence” possibly connected to the Northport-East Northport school district.

— Queens elected officials want the city Department of Education to hold a public meeting on school safety concerns.

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MODEST 3 PERCENT BOOST IN SCHOOL AID — POLITICO’s Nick Niedzwiadek: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to boost school funding by $826 million, a roughly 3 percent increase over the current fiscal year. Of that figure, roughly $704 million would go toward the Foundation Aid funding formula. If enacted, state aid would total nearly $28.6 billion. Last year’s executive budget proposed a $956 million increase in school aid, and the final budget agreement came in above that figure.

…Cuomo also proposed curbing expense-based aid — in which the state reimburses schools for certain expenses like student transportation and capital projects — and rolling that funding into Foundation Aid. Cuomo in recent years has floated a number of changes to the system, including a 2 percent cap in 2018-2019 and consolidating the various categories, and he said Tuesday that this proposal would create a more equitable distribution of funds. However, Cuomo also said “even Foundation Aid isn’t progressive” enough, and he vowed to put forward a new funding formula that he argues will better steer money to the schools and students in greatest need.

One Q: If Foundation Aid isn’t equitable enough, why not just put all the money into this theoretically better formula?

— The executive budget includes a proposal to place an outside monitor at the Rochester City School District. The legislation is similar to the recently agreed-upon plan for two troubled Long Island school districts that is fast becoming a template across the state.

— Cuomo’s proposal would allocate $146 million to fund the Excelsior Scholarship, which he wants to expand to families making up to $150,000. That’s a roughly $26 million increase over the estimated cost for the current academic year, according to the Higher Education Services Corp

— Mark your calendars: The joint legislative budget hearings for higher education is Feb. 4 and elementary education is Feb. 11. Budget bills were released Tuesday evening, and here is the accompanying school aid runs.

THE COST OF BUREAUCRATIC MALAISE — Chalkbeat’s Christina Veiga: “A nonprofit that helps New Yorkers with disabilities readied to open five new preschool classrooms this fall in Queens, recruiting teachers, purchasing new furniture and notifying families that their children had been accepted. Months later, the classrooms at HeartShare’s Howard Beach outpost sit empty because of a bureaucratic roadblock: a massive backlog of background check requests to New York City’s Department of Health means teachers haven’t been cleared to begin working.”

DOH DIVES INTO NORTHPORT — Newsday’s Lisa Colangelo and David Schwartz: “The New York State Department of Health has launched an investigation into ‘cancer occurrence’ in the Northport-East Northport school district after several students from a recent graduating class were ‘reported as having been diagnosed’ with cancer. The health department said it is focusing its review on students who graduated from Northport High School in 2016. The school district said in a statement Tuesday that it will ‘fully cooperate’ with the investigation.”

MARIE CURIE TEACHERS GIVE PRINCIPAL POOR MARKS — New York Post’s Selim Algar: “The principal of a troubled Queens middle school — where a wild cafeteria brawl was recently caught on video — is flunking with his own staff. Just 25 percent of teachers at MS 158 Marie Curie said their boss, Henry Schandel, allows them any influence over behavior standards, according to city Department of Education surveys. The dismal figure is 31 percent below the average for the district’s other principals — and 52 percent lower than the citywide number.”

POLS WANT TOWN HALL ON SCHOOL SAFETY — Northeast Queens elected officials are calling on New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to hold a public meeting on school safety following a Community Education Council 26 meeting that was shut down after the parent of a student who was assaulted at Marie Curie Middle School in Bayside took the mic to express his frustration over the assault. “Chancellor Carranza must return to District 26 in short order and have a constructive dialogue with our community about these critical matters,” State Sen. John Liu, chair of the Senate’s New York City Education Committee, said in a statement. “It will be difficult for him to restore any trust without doing so.” — Madina

DISTRICT 9 DIVERSITY PLAN TALKS — D’Vonte Graham, borough manager for community affairs at the DOE, and Amina Hassen, senior urban planner at WXY — an urban planning firm the DOE tapped to serve as facilitator for the planning process — gave a brief presentation on the diversity plan for District 9 in the Bronx, one of five districts that the city included in a $2 million grant program.

— Hassen said they are in the first stage of the process, which entails getting feedback as well as the convening of a working group. “There is no plan yet because the plan will be created together collaboratively over the next several months through a working group, through focus groups, through community workshops and through large-scale public workshops,” she said.

— Rosemary Ofili, a District 9 parent advocate who sits on the district’s equity team, encouraged parents to join the team and stressed the need for parents’ voices to be heard. “Does anybody know from the presentation today what’s diversity, what are they looking at, what do they want you to know or what do they want you to contribute?” she asked.

— District 9 superintendent Leticia Rodriguez-Rosario said, “We’re going to make every effort to have these diversity meetings across the district so they won’t be difficult to get to to make sure that we hear your voice.” — Madina

LGBTQ EDUCATION — Philadelphia Inquirer’s Melanie Burney: “For a high school history assignment on the Holocaust, Olivia Loesch chose the pink triangle, used by the Nazis to persecute gay men in concentration camps and decades later a symbol of pride for the gay rights movement. ‘I never knew about it,’ said Loesch, 15, a sophomore at Haddon Heights High who came out in seventh grade and now identifies as gender-queer. ‘I feel that the topic should be talked about and people should know about me.’ Educators in her public school district — and 11 others in New Jersey — are now testing a pilot curriculum to include instruction about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

NEW UNIT FOR ‘PROACTIVE’ CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT — POLITICO’s Michael Stratford: The Trump administration announced that it was creating a new unit at the Education Department that’s meant to help schools and colleges “proactively” comply with federal civil rights laws before they’re hit with complaints. The new Outreach, Prevent, Education and Non-discrimination Center, or OPEN Center, will be housed in the department’s Office for Civil Rights, the department said.

COLLEGE STUDENT DEPORTED TO IRAN — Daily Beast’s Olivia Messer: “The attorneys for a 24-year-old Iranian national and Northeastern University student who inspired protests at Boston Logan International Airport over the weekend said their client was deported late Monday in spite of a federal court order. Shahab Dehghani was detained Sunday night at about 5 p.m. when he arrived to study economics at the private school on a valid F1 student visa.”

CHINESE RESEARCHER INFECTED — Reuters’ Tony Munroe: “A Chinese physician who was investigating the outbreak of a deadly new virus in central China says he has himself been infected. Wang Guangfa, who heads the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at Beijing’s Peking University First Hospital, was part of a team of experts that earlier this month visited Wuhan, where the virus emerged. … The death toll from the flu-like coronavirus strain, which officials have confirmed can be transmitted between humans, had climbed to six as of Tuesday, with the number of reported cases rising above 300.”

SUNY Schenectady culinary professor is headed to Germany for the “Culinary Olympics.”

Rep. Tom Reed is making a trip to SUNY Binghamton after protesters shouted down a conservative economist.

10 a.m. — The Assembly Education Committee meets, room 835, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

6:30 p.m. — Community Education Council 3 and CSD3 Presidents’ Council Joint Calendar Meeting, M.S. 247 Dual Language Middle School, 100 W. 77th Street, Manhattan

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