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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Mon, Mar 1, 2004

CFE Calls on Legislature to Reform the Archaic School Funding System

Operating Aid Proposal Calls for Increase in State Share, Stability in Year-to-Year Funding

To provide every child with a chance at a sound basic education, schools must have funding that is stable, predictable, and based on student needs, according to a Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) proposal on operating aid released today.

“Districts should not be forced to play a guessing game each year about whether and when they’ll be able to hire teachers, provide pre-kindergarten or guarantee textbooks for each of their students,” stated Michael A. Rebell, CFE's Executive Director and Counsel. “This proposal details fair funding principles that would allow districts to focus fully on their primary responsibility – educating our children.”

Currently, state support for education in New York is distributed through 50 separate and overly complex formulas. The approach recommended in this CFE proposal consolidates 38 of the current categories into a single “foundation amount.” A foundation plan, supported by the Board of Regents and a broad array of educators, advocates, and business and community representatives from around the state who participated in the crafting of the CFE proposal, is currently used by more than 40 other states.

On Feb. 4, the preliminary results of the New York Adequacy Study identified the need for $7 billion to provide all students in New York with the opportunity for a sound basic education. The operating aid recommendations would ensure that the resources for education are provided effectively to school districts around the state. The proposal outlines a four-year phase-in of the new foundation funding system.

CFE’s proposal also recommends increasing the state share of support for education from 50% to 56%. New York State currently provides a smaller share of support for education than 30 other states around the country – from Alabama to Wyoming. Although the proposal would slightly lower the local share of support for education, it would require a mandatory contribution to the foundation amount based on a locality’s ability to pay. The state would then be required to provide the difference between the amount raised through local contributions and available federal aid, and the foundation amount.

The operating aid proposal is the first of three CFE proposals to assure that the state adopts sound, non-partisan policies that will result in the effective statewide implementation of the CFE v. State decision. CFE will release additional proposals on reforming the state’s system for ensuring accountability in education and providing capital funds to school districts in the coming month. In March and April, CFE, the New York State School Boards Association and the League of Women Voters will hold a dozen town hall meetings in communities around the state to solicit feedback on its proposals.

All three of CFE’s proposals will be shared with the state legislature and the Governor’s Commission for Education Reform. With only four months to go until the Court of Appeals July 30, 2004 deadline, the state is under growing pressure to reform the current school funding system and ensure that every student in the state has the opportunity to a sound basic education.

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 >