The Business Council of New York State, Inc. supports language in A.2003-B, that would provide $9 million in new funding for early college high school programs.
Unlike the Executive Budget and Senate Budget resolution, the Assembly’s proposal for this new funding would allow existing early college high school programs to apply for additional funding. This is absolutely crucial for early college high school programs whose funding expires in 2020, specifically the first cohort of sixteen NYS Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) programs. These programs have no guaranteed funding for students beginning in 2020 and are already concerned about their programs being forced to shut down due to lack of funding.
Previous proposals to formally establish the NYS Smart Scholars early college high school program and the NYS P-TECH program in statute and provide for their continued support within the state education department (SED), have not passed and as a result the future of these successful programs continues to be uncertain.
Both Smart Scholars and P-TECH are early college high school models which involve a partnership between public school districts and institutions of higher education, providing students access to college coursework and college credits while in high school.
Access to this rigorous coursework not only better prepares students for college and challenging careers, but also increases their likelihood of college graduation since students are able to receive college credits in high school at no cost to them.
Additionally, students in P-TECH programs have direct contact with the program’s private sector business partners through mentoring, worksite visits, and job shadowing; providing students with the invaluable exposure to career exploration and hands-on experience.
Currently there are 37 state-funded P-TECH programs supported by grants through the State Education Department (SED), with an active RFP for up to nine additional schools with FY 2019 funding; and others in New York City funded through the City Department of Education. These programs are supported with grants and appropriations, but do not exist in State education statute.
Not only are these P-TECH programs across the State providing educational opportunities previously unavailable for students, they’re drawing a direct connection to a career, providing a much-needed talent pipeline in areas of the state struggling with population decline. Businesses in New York State have demonstrated the need of the P-TECH talent pipeline through their commitment to the program. P-TECHs across the state boast a remarkable 467 committed business partners providing curriculum support in addition to mentoring and career development resources. Of those 467 official P-TECH partners, over a dozen across the state are business associations, chambers of commerce, and member-based economic development organizations who further multiply the number of business partners with the engagement of their membership.
The Business Council has continually advocated on the issue of sustainable funding for these schools, and this is the first real opportunity for it to be included in the State budget. The simple amendment to include existing schools in the budget language allows for these schools to reapply for finding for another six years and would be a strong first step towards sustainability for schools who have been preparing students for in-demand careers.
The Business Council supports programs which not only help students attend college, but those that also ensure New York has the qualified talent pipeline needed to further grow our economy. As such, the Business Council supports this provision of A.2003-B, and its $9 million in new funding for early college high school programs which makes existing schools eligible for such funding.