Thu, Jul 5, 2007
CFE And AQE Urge New Yorkers To Present Views On NYC Contracts For Excellence And Class Size Reduction Plan
Public Encouraged to Attend Public Hearings and Submit Comments before Deadline
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. (CFE) and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) today called on New York City parents and education advocates to review the preliminary Citywide and Community School Districts Contracts for Excellence, and the NYC Class Size Reduction Plan, released by the City Department of Education (DOE). The organizations also encouraged the public to provide input by speaking at public hearings in all boroughs or contacting the DOE in writing before a July 14, 2007, deadline.
"The time to make our voices heard is now," said Geri Palast, CFE Executive Director. "The NYC preliminary contracts and the proposed Class Size Reduction plan must be thoroughly analyzed to ensure that the historic education funding increase resulting from the CFE litigation is spent on proven strategies that improve the quality of learning and academic performance. I encourage all parents, advocates and interested parties to use the hard-won right to public participation in the development process to make their views known."
In compliance with the 2007-2008 State Education Budget and Reform Act, DOE today posted the Preliminary Citywide and 32 Community School Districts Contracts for Excellence, and the mandatory NYC Class Size Reduction Plan, on its website (http://schools.nyc.gov). The public is encouraged to review the preliminary plan and contracts, and present their comments on how these will impact their school and school district budget spending. The public can present oral testimony at public hearings scheduled for July 9-12th in all boroughs. Written comments will be accepted through July 14, 2007 at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It is critical that parents, teachers and students seize this opportunity to evaluate DOE's priorities and give them feedback," said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. "Those who are in a school know best what it will take to turn a school around. The policy makers at Tweed need to hear from those in the trenches."
CFE and AQE will analyze the preliminary plan and contracts, and will provide testimony and comments next week to ensure that proposed allocations are within the framework of the law and CFE lawsuit. Their priority is to secure that the funds are used to serve students with the highest educational needs first, that the funds are effectively invested in the five strategic areas mandated by the law--class size reduction, full day pre-k, more time on task, improving teacher and principal quality, and restructuring middle and high schools--and that there is transparency and accountability in the implementation of the contracts and measuring success.
The hearing schedule is as follows:
Bronx Monday, July 9: 6 â€“ 8 pm Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice 244 East 163rd Street Bronx, NY 10451 Public Information: 718-410-3430
Brooklyn Tuesday, July 10: 6 â€“ 8 pm Brooklyn H.S. for the Arts 345 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Public Information: 718-855-2412
Manhattan Wednesday, July 11: 6 â€“ 8 pm Millennium High School 75 Broad Street New York, NY 10004 Public Information: 212-825-9008
Staten Island Wednesday, July 11: 6 â€“ 8 pm Michael J. Petrides H.S. 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301 Public Information: 718-815-0186
Queens Thursday, July 12: 6 â€“ 8 pm Thomas A. Edison Career & Technical Education H.S. 165-65 84th Avenue Jamaica, NY 11432 Public Information: 718-297-6580
Speaker sign-up will begin at 5:30pm. Each speaker will be given 2 minutes to speak.
The Contracts for Excellence are plans or "contracts" that high needs school districts that receive a 15% increase or $10 million of new foundation aid must develop, saying where the money will go, how it will be spent and what it will accomplish. Created by Governor Eliot Spitzer to secure accountability and transparency in the distribution of the historic education funding increase granted by the 2007-2008 Education Budget and Reform Act, the contracts (which NYC DOE must develop for all 32 NYC Community School Districts in addition to a citywide contract) provide parents and taxpayers with the facts on how districts propose to distribute and use the new funds in five key areas: reducing class size, more time on task, improving teacher and principal quality, restructuring middle and high schools, and establishing full day pre-K.
Enacted last April as a result of final ruling in the CFE lawsuit, the 2007-2008 Education Budget and Reform Act provides a record $1.76 billion (over $700 million for New York City) increase in funding next year and ushers in a new "Foundation Aid" formula that distributes money based on need. The new school aid plan, which includes a commitment of $7 billion ($3.2 billion for New York City) in new funding ($5.5 billion in foundation aid) over the next four years and was born out of the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, is a resounding victory for New York's 2.8 million schoolchildren.
Only foundation aid is subject to the Contract for Excellence. For the 2007-2008 school year, New York City received $469,752,980 in foundation aid. After subtracting for inflation and other allowable costs, approximately $258 million are subject to the Contract for Excellence: $228 million must be invested in new and expanded programs in the five contract areas; while $30 million may be spent in the first year only on the maintenance of effort of existing programs in these areas.
Upon incorporating public input, DOE must submit the proposed contracts to the New York State Education Department (SED) by July 15th, 2007. In a process that is still under development, SED will post copies of the approved contracts on its website, followed by yet another public comment period. CFE and AQE will continue to inform parents and advocates of further opportunities to impact how CFE funds will be spent.
For more information about the 2007-2008 Education Budget and Reform Act, and a copy of "Know Your Rights Handbook: A Guide to the 2007-2008 Education Budget and Reform Act and What It Means for Your District," the public can call (212) 867-8455 or visit 188.8.131.52.
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 >