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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Fri, Mar 23, 2007


Senate Majority Foundation Aid Distribution Plan Shifts Future School Aid from Poor Districts to Wealthy Districts in Every Region of The State

The Governor, the Assembly and the Senate have all agreed that the 2007 budget will provide a major infusion of new school aid. The dispute stalemating the entire state budget process is over who should gain the greatest benefit as a result of the new school aid formula that will be established in this year’s budget. The formula established this year will determine the ongoing distribution of school aid that will divide the school aid pie for the next generation of school children. In proposing fundamental school aid reform the Governor’s objective was to deliver educational excellence to every student. The Senate has made clear that their primary objective is to maintain the Long Island “shares” agreement. This objective is motivated by politics rather than educational goals, and, as a result, it distorts the Governor’s proposal rather than improving upon it.

Overwhelmingly, poor school districts would lose and wealthy districts would gain if the Senate Majority “shares” formula is adopted according to a report released today by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Alliance for Quality Education. The report finds this trend holds in every region in the state. By contrast, Governor Spitzer’s school aid formula would provide the greatest benefit to the neediest students while ensuring an annual school aid increase for every single school district in the state. In the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit the court found evidence that state officials have traditionally agreed upon “shares” and then manipulated formulas to produce the desired outcome. The foundation formula proposed by the Governor utilizes an approach long advocated by CFE and AQE to create a rational formula that distributes school aid based upon the educational needs of students.

The report identifies who loses and who gains under the changes the Senate Majority made to the Governor’s proposed formula. It finds that the Senate would reengineer the Governor’s proposed school aid formula distribution and take future school aid increases from poor districts in order to provide additional aid to wealthy districts. All five major cities in the state, 75% of needy small cities and suburbs and a majority of needy rural districts and average need districts would lose ground under the Senate Majority formula in order to provide additional school aid to 82% of the state’s wealthy districts.

“If the purpose of the Senate Majority plan is to improve upon the Governor’s plan it fails miserably. On balance, every category of school district, large cities, high need small cities and suburbs, high need rural district and average need districts do better under the Governor’s proposal than under the Senate Majority plan. The one exception is wealthy districts that do much better under the Senate plan. In fact, the Senate formula totally undermines the Governor’s fundamental goal of educational excellence and would lock in inequity for yet another generation of students.”

Governor Spitzer’s foundation formula drives 79.3% to high needs districts, 19% to average need, and 1.7% to wealthy districts. By contrast, the Senate Majority formula cut high needs districts to 66% of the total aid, increases average need districts to 23.5% and jumps wealthy districts up to 10.5% of the increased school aid. The result would be that while the Governor would offer needy districts a four year aid increase averaging 34.6% to 46.4%, provide 28.3% increases for average need districts, and 12.5% increases for wealthy districts, the Senate would offer wealthy districts 95.4% increases, roughly double the size of increases they would offer to poor and middle class districts. Consistent with these findings, the report shows that on Long Island the Senate plan would hurt almost every high needs district and nearly half of the average needs districts while benefiting 75% of the wealthy districts. This distribution raises questions as to whether the Senate Majority plan truly works to the overall benefit of Long Island school districts.
“For 13 years, the CFE litigation battled the politically pre-determined distribution of school aid based on regional shares and, instead, sought to establish a transparent, reliable and fair formula based on need. The numbers speak for themselves. The Governor’s foundation formula proposal charts a path to deliver fundamental fairness and educational excellence. The Senate foundation formula distribution shortchanges needy districts and takes an untenable step backwards in the fight to win fair school funding.”

An entire generation of students have either graduated or dropped out from our schools since the beginning of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. Both CFE and AQE have both made replacing the existing school aid formula with one that is fair and equitable for high needs students a central demand of their campaign. The Governor has proposed such a formula and the Assembly has adopted the Governor’s plan, but the Senate Majority formula would lock in place the basic unfair distribution system that has existed since before the inception of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation 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 state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >