By Judith Dinowitz
Agudath Israel of America is pleased to note that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has released the final installment of the $250 million appropriation in Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) funds owed to nonpublic schools. This payment will cover CAP expenses for the 2003-04 school year.
These funds represent the fulfillment of a promise made by New York State in 2015 to pay down nearly all of a substantial debt owed nonpublic schools for more than a decade for CAP services.
CAP is an important component of the Mandated Services program, a program which reimburses nonpublic schools for the cost of certain government mandated school functions. Under CAP, NYS schools take attendance multiple times a day, and follow up on poor attendance patterns.
For many years, due to budget shortfalls and the use of a flawed formula to calculate CAP reimbursement, the state accumulated a substantial debt to nonpublic schools. In addition, for certain years, including 2003-04, the CAP mandate was unfunded and schools did not receive any reimbursement at all.
For more than a decade, Agudath Israel and other nonpublic school groups were working to address these issues. These efforts culminated in a $250 million appropriation enacted in 2015.
Now, with this final installment of the $250 million, yeshivos will have received a total of approximately $80 million (their proportional share) in prior-year CAP reimbursement since August 2015. These monies are in addition to the regular Mandated Services and CAP payments the yeshivos receive each year.
Rabbi Mordechai Levin, Vice President for Operations at Bais Yaakov Academy in Brooklyn, said, “These monies are vital to the smooth fiscal operation of our school. During these times, tuition payments are difficult for parents, and other sources of income are hard to come by. We recognize and appreciate the fact that without the advocacy of Agudas Yisroel on behalf of our mosdos, payment of these funds would not have come to fruition.”
However, Agudath Israel estimates that the full CAP reimbursement owed to nonpublic schools for prior years is approximately $320 million, leaving $70 million of this debt remaining. With the inclusion of a $60 million appropriation for CAP reimbursement in the proposed 2017 Governor’s budget, $10 million more needs to be appropriated.
Mrs. Deborah Zachai, Agudath Israel’s Director of Education Affairs, said, “These monies were an unexpected boon to yeshivos this past year and a half. We are delighted that we were able to help yeshivos in this way and could not have done this without the hard work and support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Agudath Israel is committed to continue our efforts to secure the remaining funds owed to our yeshivos.”