February 4, 2004
Advocates seek $7 billion in new spending on New York schools
New York State schools need an additional $7 billion a year if they are to provide every student the opportunity for a "sound basic education" as required by the state Constitution, an advocacy group said.
New York City schools alone would require an additional $4.1 billion, an increase of roughly one-third, according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
Fully 517 districts, or three of every four statewide, "do not currently have sufficient resources to ensure every student has the opportunity for a sound basic education," the group said. In a footnote, its report said that 163 districts in the state "already spend at or above" the needed level. School spending in New York is among the highest in the nation at $11,204 per student, 37 percent higher than the national average, according to the National Center on Education Statistics.
The state Court of Appeals ruled in June 2003, in a case brought by CFE, that New York City schools do not provide every student with the opportunity for a sound basic education. It instructed Governor Pataki and the Legislature to implement by July 30, 2004, a plan that would provide adequate resources to New York City schools. CFE seeks to extend the court's findings to require increased funding for most school districts across the state.
The CFE report issued February 4 recommends universal pre-kindergarten, mandated smaller class sizes and additional spending on programs for special education, children in poverty and those learning English as a second language.
It repeated its call for the coming year's state budget to provide a $2 billion "down payment" toward the $7 billion increase, which it said should come within three to four years.
The CFE report is available at www.cfequity.org/.