Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, the No. 2 official in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration, touted the budget's 4 percent school aid increase, and said that squabbles with the funding formula should be taken up with the state Education Department.
"I think that if there are issues with the formula, I’d work through the state Education Department to see if things could be improved," Mr. Duffy told reporters after a speech in Watertown Friday.
The school aid formula, through which much of the state's funding is allocated, shortchanges poor, rural schools, politicians on both sides of the aisle and education groups say.
While schools on Long Island offer a host of languages, schools like Watertown have cut even simple things. For example, the school district cut one of its late bus runs. That means that teachers can only give a student a detention if that student's parents agree to pick the student up after school. It makes disciplining students much more complicated, more than one Watertown High School teacher has told me.
"I don’t think any districts has escaped the economy and the challenges of the budget and the recession," Mr. Duffy said, while acknowledging that he doesn't "quarrel with the concerns" of poor rural and urban schools.
Mr. Duffy noted that most schools will see a funding increase this year. That's not enough to placate the vocal opposition.
"The governor has done a great thing with his budget," Mr. Duffy said. "The governor isn’t cutting education. He’s increasing education statewide."