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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tue, Jun 17, 2008

CFE Analysis of NYC Contract for Excellence May 30th Projected Allocations for SY2008-09

CFE analysis finds that NYCDOE proposed allocating only 59 percent to the neediest schools in its May 30th preliminary SY2008-09 Contract for Excellence plan.

Download the complete report (pdf).

In 2006, after 13 years of Campaign for Fiscal Equity litigation, the New York State Court of Appeals established the state constitutional right to a sound basic education and the requirement that the state provide the necessary resources to fund that right in New York City (NYC). In 2007, the governor and state legislature enacted statewide education finance and accountability reform and established the Contract for Excellence, an agreement between the city, the state and the public regarding investment of these classroom dollars in best practices that predominately serves the neediest students and schools. State regulations further defined this requirement by providing that 75% of these funds must be spent on the 50% schools and students with the greatest need, dubbed by the state as the 75/50 rule. Further, the Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007-2008 (Act), made clear that these hard-won monies are to supplement not supplant existing dollars.

The Act provided for $2.35 billion in new foundation aid based on need subject to the Contract for NYC in increasing increments over four years. NYC was also required to add $2.2 billion of its own dollars over the four year period.

This year, the 2008-2009 state budget provided NYC with $622 million in new foundation aid. State law allows NYC to deduct 3% for inflation ($166,226,074 in 2008) and charter school tuition costs ($70 million in 2008.). This means that NYC must develop a Contract with the State and the public covering $386 million. Of this, roughly 75% or $289.3 million must be spent to predominately serve the neediest students and schools.

NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) is required to put their proposed Contract out for public comment, and provide specific information on how all these monies are allocated to schools and programs. The current proposal violates these rules, and provides only a partial look at the investments. This analysis is based on the NYCDOE proposal that provides information on only $231 million in school allocations. According to NYC DOE’s own numbers, they once again appear to violate the 75/50 rule by allocating 41% of these hard-won dollars to low need higher performing schools. Further, NYCDOE has held back $63 million for purposes of “supplanting”, or filling the holes of their own budget cuts, thereby undermining the fundamental purpose of CFE in adding new dollars to close the achievement gap for low performing schools and students. The remaining dollars are allocated to a variety of purposes, general in description, some of which are inconsistent with the Contract law and regulations.

The Analysis
The State Regulations of the Commissioner specify that districts must allocate funding to schools with the largest percentages of (1) students with limited English proficiency or English language learners, (2) students in poverty; (3) students with disabilities; and (4) student with low academic achievement. Students with low academic achievement means students who are not performing at least at Level 3 on the following accountability measures: (a) elementary/middle-level English language arts; (b) elementary/middle-level math; (c) secondary-level English language arts; and (d) secondary-level math; and/or did not graduate within four years of first entry into the ninth grade, as determined for the latest school year.

The Regulations of the Commissioner also specify that “For school districts in cities with a population of one hundred twenty-five thousand or more, at least 75 percent of the contract amount shall be distributed to benefit students having the greatest educational needs who are enrolled in the top 50 percent of schools within the district ranked in order of greatest to least relative incidence, as measured against total school enrollment, of poverty, disability, limited English proficiency and low school performance; provide that all schools within the district that are in improvement status shall received at least their pro rata share of contract funds based on their share of total district need,” the 75/50 rule.

In 2008, NYC is obligated to develop a Contract in the amount of $385,796,487. Of this amount, roughly 75% or $289,347,365 must be directed to the targeted needy population described above. The balance -- $96,449,122 may be spent on students and schools that do not meet the median.

In order to create a meaningful index in reviewing the distribution of the proposed allocations – CFE’s analyses separated the elementary and middle schools which use the ELA and Math assessments as the performance measures from the high schools which use graduation rates. Of the $231,091,326, $173,331,849 should be allocated to high need low performing schools. Performance data is only available on 1,256 schools receiving $211,977,604 in allocations. Thus our analysis covers only those where ELA data or high school graduation rates are available. Of the total, DOE allocated $167,586,670 to 1,056 schools with ELA data--$125,690,002 or 75%, must go to the target schools. The balance -- $41,896,667 may be used to support schools with lower needs. Additionally, $44,509,390 was allocated to high schools with graduation data. $33,382,042 or 75%, must go to the target schools. The balance -- $11,127,347 may be used to support schools with lower needs.

In this analysis, CFE developed indices to test two questions:

  • Were Contract dollars allocated to schools in a manner that is consistent with Commissioner’s Regulations?

  • Were Contract dollars focused primarily on those schools which serve the largest percentages of students with demographic risk indicators and/or whose performance is below the City average?

CFE’s Findings:

  • The Elementary/Middle School Eligibility Indices 1 and 2 indicate that, on each index, 39 percent of Contract dollars were allocated to schools in the lowest-eligibility category. If elementary/middle schools above that level were limited to the 25 percent rule, the funding to schools with greater need would increase by over $23 million or at least 22 percent.

  • The High School Eligibility Indices 1 and 2 indicate that at least 51 percent of Contract dollars were allocated to schools in the lowest-eligibility category. Limiting these schools to the 25 percent rule would increase funds to needier schools by almost $12 million or over 50 percent.

Download the complete report (pdf).

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 >