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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Thu, Dec 18, 2003

CFE And AQE Call For $2 Billion Immediate "down Payment" And Prompt Phase In Of Court-Mandated Funding Reforms

Low Income Elementary Schools Require 36% More Funding

Rejecting the Regents' proposed seven-year phase-in of the increased state funding needed to comply with the recent Court of Appeals' order in CFE v. State, and their proposed $500 million increase in foundation aid for the next fiscal year, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) have called upon the Governor and the Legislature to issue an immediate $2 billion "down payment" in the state's budget for the fiscal year that begins on April 1, 2004, and for full funding of the constitutional mandate within three to four years.

The Regents have proposed dramatic, positive changes in the state aid system in order to meet the needs of all children in the state and have calculated that at least $6 billion in new state foundation aid and additional sums for building aid, transportation and other items will be necessary to accomplish these goals.

Although full results of the costing-out study initiated by CFE, the New York State School Boards Associations and 30 other statewide organizations are not yet available, preliminary data compiled by the team of national consultants conducting the comprehensive New York Adequacy Study indicates that students in prototypical elementary schools with high proportions of students from poverty backgrounds will require approximately 36% more funding than students in average poverty schools. Since most schools in New York City and many other high need districts are high poverty schools, CFE anticipates that the final recommendations of the comprehensive costing-out study will also call for a substantial increase in state spending.

"The Regents' new foundation approach is the right way to achieve constitutional compliance, but the numbers they have advanced thus far can not get us there. A seven-year delay means that hundreds of thousands of students currently in high schools in New York City and throughout the state who are now being denied the opportunity for a sound basic education would never have their constitutional rights vindicated," said Michael A. Rebell, CFE's Executive Director and Counsel. "That is totally unacceptable to us -- and it will be totally unacceptable to the Court of Appeals."

Over a thousand New Yorkers who participated in forums organized by AQE and CFE this fall identified quality teaching, class size reduction, improved facilities, academic research services and expanded preschool programming as priority areas requiring immediate infusion of funding if students are to meet the Regents' Learning Standards. These statewide priority areas parallel the courts' detailed findings concerning resource deficiency areas in New York City. "We need a substantial increase in educational funding in next year's budget to restore past cutbacks in these areas and to advance toward compliance with the Court of Appeals' mandate in these critical areas," said Regina Eaton, AQE's Executive Director.

CFE and AQE are calling upon the Governor to include a $2 billion increase for state aid for education in his Executive Budget that will be issued in early January. Although the report of the Governor's Commission on Education Reform is not due until March 1, 2004, inclusion of a significant down payment figure in the January budget is essential to begin the legislative deliberations necessary to reach final determinations by April 1 and to fully "implement the necessary measures" to comply with the Constitution's mandates by July 30, 2004, as required by the Court of Appeals' Order.

"By guaranteeing a down payment in funding for educational solutions, Governor Pataki can prove that he is truly committed to improving children's educational futures," Mr. Rebell stated.

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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 >