Alliance For Quality Education. 07/2004.

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 Alliance for Quality Education





CRITERIA FOR A NEW SCHOOL FUNDING SYSTEM





The Court of Appeals ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case holds that every student is entitled to the opportunity for a “meaningful high school education,” and that the state school funding system is unconstitutional. We believe that the new system the State must create to implement this decision should meet the following criteria:



1.

ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR EVERY SCHOOL IN THE STATE  


The State should ensure that every school has sufficient funds to provide all students the opportunity for a meaningful high school education. The court technically required the State to establish a plan to ensure adequate resources for every school in New York City. To be fair and viable, any new funding system must address the constitutional needs of all students statewide.


The court required the State to determine the actual cost of providing students with a meaningful high school education. Any funding plan must be based on that determination of cost, taking into account regional cost variations and must provide every school with adequate funds to meet that cost.


The actual cost must include adequate resources for every school to provide


o

quality teaching in every classroom, sufficient qualified personnel, and ongoing professional development;

o

small classes;

o

adequate, up-to-date facilities and learning materials;

o

Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) and early childhood education for all children;

o

additional time and necessary services to ensure all children the opportunity to secure a meaningful high school education including Academic Intervention Services (AIS) for those in need, after school and summer school programs for both enrichment and extra help, opportunities for parent involvement and training, and sufficient personnel to provide various social support services to students—with particular consideration for special education and English language learning students.

.

Localities must be free to fund schools above the level of adequacy.



1.

ACCOUNTABILITY


The State must establish a clear accountability system, including reasonable benchmarks and expected outcomes, which ensures that the reformed funding system and all applicable laws and regulations actually provide every student with the opportunity for a meaningful high school education.  If fully taken advantage of, this would lead to the attainment of a high school diploma based on New York's requirements for graduation.



2.

SUSTAINED, STABLE, AND  PREDICTABLE FUNDING


The new school funding system must permit schools and school districts to plan properly for educational improvement and must provide for ongoing funding increases to meet necessary cost increases.



3.

 SIMPLE AND TRANSPARENT SYSTEM


The new school funding system must be simple, transparent, and produce understandable results.



4.

INCREASED STATE SHARE OF EDUCATION SPENDING


New York State currently provides less than half of all funds spent statewide for public education. The federal government supplies less than 10 percent, and local school districts provide the rest. The state’s share should be significantly increased, especially for high-need districts.


Necessary increases in current levels of education funding should not come from reductions in the current state aid levels of any school districts, or from other essential programs.


Localities should be expected to contribute a basic fair share of educational expenditures and to maintain an adequate level of funding from year to year.  A fair local share should be established based upon district wealth.  The state school finance system should provide the difference between actual cost and the fair local share.


Revenues raised statewide to pay for the school finance system should be based on progressive taxes (taxes that are based upon a taxpayer’s ability to pay).