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For Immediate Release:

For More Information:

March 23, 2005

Soneni Smith, (212) 523-0186,

(917) 517-9393; Bob Cohen,

       

(518) 465-4600 (x104)

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Our Kids Can’t Wait:

“Schools For New York’s Future Act” Released

New Bill Fully Implements CFE Statewide; Provides $8.6 Billion More

 In School Aid After 4 Years; $2.2 Billion Next Year


Albany, NY — The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) is calling on the Legislature to enact the “Schools for New York’s Future Act” that would provide more than $8 billion in additional school aid for school operations at the end of four years, and over $2 billion in the 2005-06 school year.  The new bill, released today by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, details a new school aid formula that would provide every school district in the State with adequate funding to meet the constitutional requirement for a sound basic education.

“This legislation provides a detailed blueprint for education finance reform,” said Karen Scharff, AQE co-chair.  “It shows exactly how to comply with the CFE court order on a statewide basis, and the bill simplifies our State’s complex and unfair education funding formula. This bill creates a formula that funds schools based on actual student needs, rather than political deal making, and provides a predictable amount of funding for every district.  The best response to the court decision is to give all children around the state their constitutional rights."

AQE, along with other statewide organizations, worked with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity to develop the legislation.  The Act translates the principles of the recent New York City-focused court order in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) litigation into a statewide funding bill that provides all school districts with adequate funding for schools.  

The funding levels in the Schools for New York’s Future Act are based on the most comprehensive costing-out study of schools ever done in the United States and the findings of Justice DeGrasse in the CFE litigation.  The bill would provide $2.15 billion in additional operations funding for schools statewide in the 2005-06 school year, growing to $8.61 billion by 2008-09, the final year of implementation, a 77.3% increase in operations funding. The $8.61 billion figure represents the State's share of what schools statewide need to meet the constitutional requirement of a sound, basic education as determined by the courts in the CFE litigation.

Each of the state's largest cities would receive substantial increases.  

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New York City would receive a $4.61 billion operations funding increase (102.3%) after 4 years, and $1.15 billion in 2005-06, consistent with the decision of Justice DeGrasse.  

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After 4 years, the "Big 4" cities would collectively receive a 68.7% increase (Buffalo would receive 68.9%, Rochester 82.4%, Syracuse 64.6%, and Yonkers 44.4%).

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Suburban, rural, and small city districts would also benefit enormously from the bill.

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High-need rural districts would receive a 73.4% increase.

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High-need urban and suburban districts would receive an 88.8% increase, and even "average-need" districts would receive a 54.0% increase.  

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Aid increases would benefit communities throughout the state.  Among the districts that would receive the largest aid increases are:

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Albany, which would receive a $148.2% aid increase; Schenectady (148.7%) in Schenectady County; Saugerties (120.0%) in Ulster County; Cairo-Durham (131.3%) in Greene County;

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Binghamton (147.1%) in Broome County;

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Cheektowaga (164.2%), Cleveland Hill (123.3%), Sloan (141.5%) and Lancaster (128.4%) in Erie County; Barker (127.7%) in Niagara County;

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East Irondequoit (149.6%) in Monroe County;

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Utica (147.4%) in Oneida County;

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Solvay (133.0%) in Onondaga County;

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Uniondale (199.6%) and Westbury (185.0%) in Nassau County;

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Middletown (129.8%) and Port Jervis (123.6%) in Orange County;

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Albion (122.4%) in Orleans County; Oswego (308.5%: the highest in the state) in Oswego County; Massena (122.9%) in St. Lawrence County.


No district would have its aid cut due the "save-harmless" feature of the bill.

(Figures for the impact of the bill on every district in the State, as well as an explanation of the bill may be found on AQE's web page: www.allianceforqualityeducation.org.)

In addition to providing the level of resources for each district necessary to meet the constitutional requirement of a "sound, basic education," the bill:

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Simplifies the state's education funding system,

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Ensures adequate school buildings and facilities, and

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Establishes a system of accountability to ensure adequate participation by parents and taxpayers, and that the new money is directed to areas such as class size reduction and quality teachers that the courts have found are critical to raising student achievement.  

AQE will urge citizens to log onto its OurKidsCantWait.Org website and continue to send thousands of messages to legislators to “get the job done” and pass the new school funding bill. The CFE case was filed 12 years ago, and the State is now 7 months late in complying with the July 30, 2004 deadline set by the Court of Appeals in that case. The "OurKidsCantWait.Org" Campaign is a statewide effort to contact the Legislature and the Governor demanding they fully fund CFE and enact legislation to comply with the court order.  



The Alliance for Quality Education is a statewide coalition of 230 organizations

 dedicated to ensuring every child’s right to a quality education.


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Endnotes

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