Public education advocates at the Alliance for Quality Education want to overhaul how New York's schools are funded — addressing a 16-year-old formula that could alter the trajectory for many districts in the state.
The group on Monday released a report that included a list of recommendations for state education officials to take as well as for lawmakers while also addressing the methodology of how schools are funded.
New York's $229 billion budget included a record $34.5 billion for education, including $24 billion in direct aid to schools, known as foundation aid. The level of spending has been long-sought by education advocates in New York, and now attention is turning to a broader view of how the money is allocated.
“The Foundation Aid formula has been in place for over two decades, and while it was designed to meet the educational needs of students at the time, it may not be adequately doing so currently," said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, a co-author of the report and the operations and policy director with the Alliance for Quality Education. "With input from educators, parents, and other members of the school community, we can identify areas where improvements are necessary going forward. By ensuring that all students are receiving the resources and support they need to succeed and thrive, we can put New York on a path for educational justice and true equity.”
But altering the funding formula could be easier said than done. School funding, especially in lean years, can be a highly charged debate in the overall budget negotiations.
The report proposes officials at the State Education Department begin a public process to bring in "marginalized voices" to gather feedback while also determining whether there should be additional resource needs due to student poverty.
State officials should also assess "the costs of effective strategies" for aid multilingual learners in schools and review how to improve funding for special education.
And lawmakers were urged to dedicate funding for the research of how to make changes to the funding formula overall, a proposal that was not included in a final budget agreement in May.
“Full funding of the state school funding formula is long overdue, and we applaud all of the students, families, educators, advocates and elected officials who worked tirelessly to reach that goal,” said Danielle Farrie, Education Law Center Research Director and report co-author. “But now there is another task at hand: making sure the funding formula provides the resources New York students across the state need to succeed in school today."