30 of 33 Districts with high black & Latino populations have CFE Funding that is Way Off Track or Totally Derailed
(Long Island, NY) The Alliance for Quality Education, Education Law Center and the Public Policy and Education Fund released a new report evaluating the impact of the 2016 New York State budget on schools. The report only focuses on high need schools and examines whether schools are on track to receive their Campaign Fiscal Equity (CFE ) funding as a result of this year’s budget. The CFE funding is known as Foundation Aid. Based on this brand new analysis, high need school districts were classified as CFE Funding On Track (>25% of CFE funding delivered in 2016 budget), CFE Funding Off Track (<25% of CFE funding delivered), CFE Funding Way Off Track (10% to 19% of CFE funding delivered) or CFE Funding Totally Derailed (<10% of CFE funding delivered).
The report reveals that for 81 percent of New York’s high need schools are classified as CFE Funding Off Track meaning they received less than 25% of the CFE money. This includes 78 school districts in the category CFE Funding Way Off Track and 15 schools classified as CFE Funding Totally Derailed. The problem is particularly aggravated in districts that serve high numbers of black and Latino students. Among the 33 school districts with high black and Latino populations, 30 are classified either as CFE Funding Way Off Track or CFE Funding Totally Derailed.
The report, CFE Derailed: The State of Our Schools in the Wake of the 2016 State Budget, includes profiles of eight high need school districts that are illustrative of the problems with profiles that include large city, small city, suburban and rural schools. The profiles uncover the effects the 2016 budget on their programming and educational resources. Districts in Albany, Brentwood, Buffalo, Herkimer, Jamestown, Schenectady, Syracuse and Utica are profiled.
The funding shortfall is further exacerbated by a flaw in the Foundation Aid formula. The formula does not account for schools that serve students in communities with very low incomes including 44 high need rural districts and an additional 38 other districts.
The report also recommends that the state commit to a three-year phase-in of Foundation Aid in order to get schools back on track to meet the constitutional standard set forth in the CFE ruling. The report also recommends fixing any flaws in the Foundation Aid formula. However, the biggest problem with the Foundation Aid formula is the state’s failure to fund it.
“When the Senate chose to not prioritize CFE they chose to ensure the students in Wyandanch did not have access to needed Spanish speaking teachers and services.,” said Daphne Marsh, Wyandanch MLO PTA president. “Our students and teachers can’t wait for the resources they need to succeed.”
“The Brentwood School District along with many other similar districts throughout the state support any measure to obtain its fair share of education funding from the State. Since the State has been slow to distribute funds as per NYS Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), we have had to find creative and aggressive solutions to budgetary shortfalls. We have had to cut programs, reduce core offerings and excise faculty and staff in a district that needs all of it services to remain competitive,” Dr. Levi McIntyre, Brentwood Superintendent of Schools.
“All across the state parents, students, and community members fought for students rights during the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. Ten years later they shouldn’t be fighting for much needed resources in their schools,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “A decade later it is unconscionable that students have yet to receive a sound and basic education.”
“2016 marks 10 years since the final ruling on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity school funding lawsuit. A decade later our schools are still denied necessary funding that would provide access to programs, services, and adequate teachers.” said Blanca A. Villanueva, Education Organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education. “It is unjust. All high needs school districts on Long Island have been derailed by received less than 10 percent of CFE funding. It is time our school receive the funding they are owed.”
“As the school year and the legislative session come to a close, we have found that the 2016 state budget helped schools, but falls far short of student need especially in the high need school districts,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director for the Alliance for Quality Education. “This report shows that in the great majority of high need schools, the CFE funding is totally off track following the 2016 state budget. The consequences for students are real in terms of overcrowded classrooms, shortages of guidance counselors and social workers, limited access to arts, music and advanced courses and more. Schools are struggling to catch up to where educational programming was in 2008 and the state has no plan to deliver the real improvement the court ordered in CFE.”
“In the 2016 budget, New York has once again failed to live up to its constitutional duty to New York’s children, especially its most vulnerable children,” said Wendy Lecker, Senior Staff Attorney at the Education Law Center. “The Foundation Aid formula was designed specifically to provide at-risk children and children in high-poverty districts with the additional academic and social support they need to succeed. As this report demonstrates, without the infusion of resources the state promised when it enacted Foundation Aid, New York’s neediest districts cannot possibly provide its children with the programs, staff and services necessary to provide them with the constitutionally ‘sound basic education’ they deserve.”
The release of the report came at press conferences throughout the state in Albany, Buffalo, Kingston, Rochester, Schenectady and Utica. The report’s release was supported by elected officials, school superintendents, parents, teachers and concerned community members.