Tue, Oct 12, 2010
Study shows rich-poor gap in New York's school district funding among the highest in the country
A new study has found that New York State's school district funding has a huge gap between rich and poor school districts, among the worst in the nation. New York State ranks near the bottom of the country in how fairly it funds its schools, asserts a new Rutgers University report released Tuesday.
Only four other states have a bigger gap between how much money they send to their poorest schools compared with their wealthiest ones, researchers at Rutgers and the Education Law Center in New Jersey found.
"It really gives us pause," said Geri Palast, head of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the group that filed a successful lawsuit in the 1990s to force the state to fund poor schools more equitably.
New York spends more on education overall than most other states, but researchers call its funding methods "regressive."
Wealthy districts rely on high property taxes to fund their schools - a luxury many poor districts do not have.
As a result, in 2008, a New York school district with no poor kids received about $17,000 per student in local and state aid, while one with at least 30% of the students living in poverty got about $14,000 per student.
In 2007, Albany bumped up funding to poor districts to settle a 10-year lawsuit after the court found the state was underfunding high-needs schools, including the majority of those in the city.
After the economy crashed in 2008, that funding flatlined and was eventually cut.
State Education Department officials said that despite budget cuts, they had worked to steer more money to poor districts.
"Available state resources should be allocated on the basis of a district's fiscal capacity, including regional costs and student needs," said spokesman Tom Dunn.
Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the stateâ€™s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >