Senator Savino: School Funding Issue Settled?

Diane J. Savino

March 29, 2006

New York—Senator Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn/Staten Island) commended today the work of activists, parents and especially the work of the Bloomberg Administration for their success in pushing the State Legislature to provide the funds necessary to pay for this year’s share of the NYC Department of Education’s Five Year Plan Capital Plan.

Legislative leaders announced yesterday a new agreement, in which Albany would issue $2.6 billion in bonds through the state's dormitory authority. In order to build the 21 proposed new schoolsthat were on hold until the State pay its share of thenew school construction plan,New York City will receive an additional $1.8 billion in capital funds.

“This is a significant victory in a long war to get New York City school children their fair share of education dollars. Throughout the city thousands of parents and activists have made their voices heard, but we should not rest on our laurels until we see true reform of our school funding formula,” said Senator Savino.

In 2003, in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, the State was found to be in violation of the constitution for failing to provide NYC students with a sound,basic education. Last March, the State Supreme Court ordered the State of New York to reform its school aid formula and pay an additional $15.2 billion to New York City in capital and operating costs.

While the new agreement does provide a significant increase in capital funding, it does not comply with the requirement that New York City receive an additional $4.7 to $5.6 billion in operating aid over a four year period; instead it provides an increase of only $400 million.

“It’s wonderful to have new facilities, but what good are they if we can't pay for the additional teachers and programs?” said the Senator.

Furthermore, Ms. Savino warns that the underlying issue of an unfair school funding formula, in which school aid is distributed according to geography, rather than student need is still not being addressed.

“If you don’t figure in student need into the equation, it is inevitable that high-need school districts, like those in New York City will continue to get shortchanged. As a state representative, my colleagues and I, including the Governor, have a moral and legal obligation to formulate a long term plan to provide a quality education for our school children, in the years to come,” said the Senator.

“We must impress upon Governor Pataki thatproviding support for our children only half-way is still irresponsible.I believe we have a term for that behavior in the State of New York. It’s called being a Deadbeat Dad,” added Senator Savino.