ALBANY, N.Y. — ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State United Teachers today denounced plans to cut funding for school districts and public higher education in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. As public schools, colleges and universities prepare for the start of a new school year, the state’s most recent financial plan includes the withholding of funds in order to balance the budget. In response to a projected $14.5 billion budget shortfall, school districts were notified that any funding tied to a statutory due date will be reduced by at least 20 percent. These cuts could gut programs that students depend on and result in layoffs around the state.

“We know that however schools and colleges open this year, it will require many additional expenses. Without funding to cover the massive costs of PPE, barriers, cleaning supplies, and more, local school districts and campuses will not be able to meet the goal of safely reopening schools for all,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Everyone wants our schools and colleges to reopen safely, but it must be done in a way that helps ensure the coronavirus does not spread or infect educators, students, or staff.

“While Congress is on vacation, communities and families across the country are waiting for them to do their jobs and provide the funding we need to pay for all these school reopening plans and keep students and educators safe. Reopening schools safely costs more money, not less. New York school districts have been banking on an infusion of federal aid to help them safely reopen their buildings in the fall, but we don’t know when or if those resources will come.

“The last thing New York should be doing right now is cutting education funding. If the Federal government fails to provide those resources, New York lawmakers need to take action by taxing the ultrawealthy and using rainy day funds and borrowing authorities to provide our schools the resources they need to reopen safely.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services, and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.