From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Assembly Majority to Governor and Senate:
The Assembly stands ready to meet in an open forum with the governor and the Senate to reach an agreement on a plan that will provide each and every New York child with a sound, basic education.
The governor and the Legislature have a July 30 deadline to meet a ruling by the state’s highest court to provide children with that sound, basic education. If the governor and the Legislature fail to devise a solution in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, a special master appointed by the court will have to step in and overhaul the funding formula – creating a further delay – forcing our schools, our communities, and our children to wait longer for reform.
In addition, if we don’t find an adequate solution, the special master – who is obligated to follow the facts of the CFE decision and therefore can only address the financial needs of New York City’s schools – will devise a new school aid plan. We must make every effort to address the CFE decision now, so we can do it equitably and we can do it statewide, not just in New York City.
Constructing a feasible school funding plan
The Assembly’s plan to help ensure that every school district in the state receives the resources it needs to provide a quality education is the only one to meet the mandates set by the court ruling. In addressing the decision, we must meet this solemn obligation while rejecting an approach that supports some school districts by taking away resources from others.
For this year, the Assembly’s plan increases school aid by $1.22 billion – with all school districts receiving an increase – including:
Additionally, the Assembly plan establishes in the next school year a $2.2 billion program for school repair and construction, helping ensure that NYC schools can address the needs identified in their five-year plan and targeting funding to needy districts across the state.
The plan also calls for New York City to strengthen its own educational investment with an additional $1.2 billion over the next five years. These city funds should be targeted to directly impact student achievement, such as professional development and creative approaches to attract teachers to high-need schools.
The Assembly plan strengthens accountability measures instituted by the Board of Regents and the state Education Department, by helping schools that are having trouble meeting standards identify and resolve those issues, and providing the necessary resources for training, technical assistance and staff.
Making the right decisions for New York’s children
The Assembly’s plan will provide nearly $6.1 billion more in aid for schools statewide over five years – with over 86 percent going to high-need schools across the state – ensuring them more resources than either the governor’s or Senate’s proposals.
The plan provides a transparent, predictable school aid formula – which, along with two-year school aid budgeting, will allow districts to better plan their programs and budgets. The formula reflects student need and regional cost, and is based on enrollment, not attendance. It establishes a foundation formula, similar to the state Board of Regents’ plan, to help stabilize education funding from year to year.
Getting down to business
It’s time for the governor and the Senate to make the right decisions for New York’s school children. We simply can’t afford the governor’s foot-dragging and the Senate’s attempts to play politics. This is not a game, and any attempt to squander the future of our children will not be tolerated.
We have a responsibility – an obligation – to meet the court’s July 30 deadline and ensure that all New York schools have the resources they need. The Assembly Majority stands committed to working together with the governor and the Senate to iron out our differences, and come up with the best plan for New York’s children.
*The complete details of the Assembly’s plan – including a detailed list of the aid each school district would receive this year – are available on its Web site at http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/comm/WAM/20040616/
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