Paterson: Education Cuts and Charter School Expansion

School districts found out today how much state funding they're losing this month, as Gov. Paterson withholds aid to shore up the budget. The governor's budget office detailed the district by district cuts in December's scheduled school aid payments. They range from a $68 million reduction for New York City schools, to just a $162 cut for the Adirondack town of Newcomb. The governor says he isn't worried about lawsuits from opponents of the cuts because he acted within his constitutional rights to keep New York from insolvency.

Paterson says under his original plan, which was rejected by the legislature, poorer schools would have been spared the brunt of the cuts, but now he says he has no choice but to cut ten percent from every school district in the state.

Paterson also says he supports expanding the number of charter schools beyond the current limit of 200. Changing the law, he says, could help the state's chance of winning up to $700 million in additional education funds from the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" fund. This fund was set up to reward states that commit to education reforms including charter schools, and using student test scores in evaluating teachers.

The city's teacher's union opposes more public financing for the privately managed charter schools.

The state legislature does not know if there is enough support to lift the cap on charter schools in time for the January deadline to apply for the federal funds.