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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tue, Apr 13, 2004

CFE Building Aid Proposal Calls For New Multi-Billion Dollar "Marshall Plan" For Major Construction In New York City

CFE calls for the creation of BRICKS Program

School districts across New York State need predictable funding for school facilities based on the needs of their students and actual building costs in order for them to provide every child with the opportunity for a sound basic education, according to a Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) proposal released today. The chronic underfunding of New York City schools, which requires special assistance to remedy the severe overcrowding, unacceptably large class sizes, and lack of science labs, libraries, and access to technology, was found unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals in the CFE decision of June 2003.

To address New York City’s urgent facilities needs, CFE calls for the creation of a state-funded “Building Requires Immediate Capital for Kids” (BRICKS) construction program to address the specific violations the Court of Appeals outlined. Eliminating overcrowding, reducing class sizes, and providing children with libraries, labs, and access to technology in New York City is estimated to cost $8.91 billion over a five year period, according to CFE’s proposal. CFE believes another $1 billion is needed to address the unconstitutional shortcomings of school facilities in other high need districts. Amortized over a 30-year period, this program would cost the state approximately $640 million per year.

“The BRICKS program would give all students in New York City access to a safe, supportive environment, which will have a direct positive impact on student achievement,” stated Michael A. Rebell, CFE's Executive Director and Counsel. “The court and public opinion are clear – school buildings should support the education our children receive, not impede it.”

In addition to BRICKS, the CFE proposal outlines seven specific reforms that would simplify and modernize the antiquated state formulas for funding school construction and renovation. In addition to linking state funding to student needs, CFE recommends updating an outdated state cap on facilities reimbursements, eliminating Wick’s law requirements which increase construction costs by at least 10% statewide, and restoring short-term state reimbursements, instead of the current 15 to 30 year repayment system the state currently uses. The suggested reforms would provide support to communities across the state based on more realistic measures of their needs and costs, in a more predictable and fair manner. Estimated annual statewide costs for the reforms are $350 million.

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 >