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The recent News article detailing the amount of school aid provided to local school districts under Gov. George Pataki's 2000-2001 executive budget failed to mention several key points.

I am acting director of the New York State Division of the Budget. Under the governor's proposed budget, every school district across the state is guaranteed to receive an increase in general operating aid. This category of aid is most important to schools because they are able to target those funds to areas they determine most critical.

More than $140 million in new general operating aid is included in the budget to give school districts flexible support to meet their locally identified needs. In addition, significant increases are included for prekindergarten programs, textbooks, technology and school building projects.

With the substantial increase of $355 million in new funding proposed for schools, total state support will reach a record $12.9 billion and will have increased by an astounding $2.6 billion or 25 percent since 1996-97.

In fact, the four-year period beginning in 1996-97 represents the most dramatic, sustained campaign of new education-related investment in state history and has solidified New York's position as a national leader in providing support for our public schools.

New Yorkers can be proud of the financial commitment we have made to our schools, but also have every right to expect improved results and performance commensurate with this investment.

Pataki's substantial increase in education funding -- combined with his Schools 2000 plan that will bring increased performance and accountability to the classroom -- is just the right formula to prepare our children as we enter the 21st century.



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