Tue, Jun 30, 2009
CFE Analysis of New York City's Approved SY2008-09 Contract for Excellence
Shows Supplanting of Almost $250 Million in Contract for Excellence Funds during 2008-09 School Year
CFEâ€™s analysis of the allocations of the NYC Department of Educationâ€™s approved 2008-09 Contract for Excellence state fundsâ€” provided to resolve the Campaign for Fiscal Equity litigationâ€” shows that the DOE used $243 million of the $388 million in Contract funds allocated last year to fill the gap created by the underfunding of the DOEâ€™s Fair Student Funding initiative, which should have been paid by the cityâ€™s tax levy dollars. Download the full analysis.
The legislation requires that schools use Contract dollars to fund one or more of the following six programs for school improvement:
For the 2008-09 school year, the State provided $388 million in new Contract money to New York City schools. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) conducted analyses of both the Department of Educationâ€™s (DOE) July proposed distribution and the State-approved distribution of the funds. Both analyses were based on data available from DOE. The 1,439 schools receiving Contract dollars represent 100 percent of New York Cityâ€™s public schools excluding District 75. DOE allocated no Contract dollars to District 75 schools.
Approved Allocations by Program Area
Compared with the previous year, the 2008-09 Contract allocated a smaller percentage of Contract dollars to reducing class size and larger percentages for increasing time on task and improving teacher/principal quality. In 2007-08, 59 percent ($152 million) went to reducing class size; $48 million (19 percent) to increasing time on task, and $40 million (15 percent) to improving teacher/principal quality. Allocations for full-day pre-kindergarten increased from $182 thousand in 2007-08 to nearly $5 million, a 27-fold increase.
Approved Allocations by Need Quartile
Supplanting City Dollars with Contract Dollars
The City has met the requirement to invest no fewer dollars in the schools in 2008-09 than in the previous year by allocating an additional $400 million. However, the Cityâ€™s allocation of tax levy dollars was insufficient to fully fund schools using the Fair Student Funding formula, forcing the City to reduce the Fair Student Funding allocation to schools by $430 million. According to Chancellor Klein, the schools needed an additional $809 million to maintain 2007-08 services. The supplanting issue relates to the way that DOE allocated funding to restore schoolsâ€™ spending power to their 2007-08 levels. In principle, to avoid supplanting, a district should distribute tax levy and unrestricted State dollars equitably among schools before allocating Contract dollars. The evidence demonstrates that New York City did not apply that principle.
Additional evidence of supplanting in the July allocations came from the distribution of the $30 million in Contract dollars that regulations allowed DOE to use for Continuation of Effort (COE); that is, to continue programs funded by Contract or tax levy dollars in the previous year. DOE, in its July proposed Contract, allocated the COE funds exclusively to High Need Schools to maintain summer school programs. Summer school programs in Low Need Schools were maintained with City or unrestricted State dollars. By not dividing the COE funds equitably, DOE deprived High Need Schools of Contract dollars that might have been used for new or expanded programs to serve at-risk students. In its approved allocation, DOE partly addressed this issue by allocating 18 percent of the COE funds to Low-Need Schools.
The distinction between Contract and other dollars is important because of the restrictions on spending Contract dollars. With the exception of funds allocated for COE, Contract dollars cannot be used to maintain positions funded with tax levy or unrestricted State dollars in the previous year. Therefore, DOEâ€™s distribution of tax levy and Contract dollars provided Low Need Schools with greater flexibility to maintain 2007-08 programs.
A second distinction between Contract dollars and tax levy and unrestricted State dollars is that fringe benefits for staff hired with Contract dollars must be paid from Contract dollars in the schoolâ€™s budget, while fringe benefits for other staff are paid by tax levy. Fringe benefits for summer school and CTT-program staff funded by Contract dollars were taken from Contract dollars allocated to schools with these programs further reducing the spending power of High Need Schools. In the approved plan, 74 percent ($16.7 million) of fringe benefits to be paid with Contract dollars would be paid by High Need Schools.
Accountability for Continuing Contract Programs
CFE believes that DOE should be required to maintain programs and teachers funded with tax levy and unrestricted State funds from year to year using those funds. If economic difficulties make it impossible to provide sufficient City funds to continue those programs, cuts should be made proportionately across all New York City schools. High Need Schools should not be more dependent than Low Need Schools on Contract dollars to maintain programs formerly funded by other dollars.
To evaluate the effectiveness of Contract dollars, DOE must comply with the statutory requirement to provide expenditure information at the school level. This budget information should identify the specific groups that benefited from each intervention: e.g., the principals that received training; the teachers that received mentoring; and the grades, subjects, and demographic groups for whom class sizes were reduced, school days or school years lengthened.
At the end of four years, DOE will need to demonstrate performance improvements attributable to the total Contract dollars allocated over that time. To this end, it is essential that DOE and other districts receiving Contract dollars keep careful electronic records specifying the participation of students in programs funded with Contract dollars. Those records will allow independent researchers to evaluate the effect of Contract dollars on student performance.
Information on what was purchased with Contract dollars and identification of students benefiting from the programs is essential to evaluating the programs funded with Contract dollars and identifying those programs that are most effective in raising the achievement of specific groups of children. It is critical that the most effective programs be identified and replicated. Failure to show a strong link between programs and results will place continued funding at risk.
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 >