The state budget agreement reached by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders increases funding for Catholic and other religious and independent schools by $13.5 million over the governor’s proposed budget released in January.
The funds include an additional $9 million in reimbursements for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) program, as well as $4.5 million in a new funding stream for school safety grants in reaction to the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as well as other school shootings around the country.
The restoration comes after a strong lobbying effort by the New York State Catholic Conference and a coalition of independent and religious schools, as well as in response to nearly 14,000 e-mail messages sent by members of the Catholic Action Network.
“We are pleased and grateful that Gov. Cuomo and the members of the state legislature recognized the injustice of funding school safety measures for public schools as part of the recent N.Y. SAFE Act, while including nothing in that measure or in the executive budget to help protect children in independent and religious schools, who are just as at risk,” said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference.
“We are equally grateful for the restoration of much of the shortfall in funding for the CAP program, which is in itself a safety measure designed to ensure that students are where they should be throughout the school day.”
Religious and independent schools received just over $94 million in Mandated Services Aid in this year’s budget, as well as $43.5 million for CAP reimbursement.
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s bishops in matters of public policy.