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Avella says he would change city's school funding formula

As mayor, City Councilman Tony Avella would undo Mayor Bloomberg’s trademark school funding program, Avella told GothamSchools in a an exclusive interview.

Currently, the city uses a program called Fair Student Funding to give schools money based on the needs of the students they serve. Under Fair Student Funding, a school with more students scoring at the lowest level on state tests would get more money than a school where the majority of students are meet the standards for proficiency, for example.

Avella said the current system, as well as the one it replaced, is vulnerable to “political favoritism” and “back-room deals” that end up giving some schools more resources than others. He said he would do away with the Fair Student Funding approach, except on a case-by-case basis where there are “extenuating circumstances,” and instead give each school the same amount of money. “Every student should be getting the same amount of money, every school should be getting the same amount of money,” he said.

But he also said that parents should be permitted to hire additional support staff with donated dollars, a practice that has come under fire recently because parents at some schools were violating city and union rules with their hiring practices.

“If there are parents who want to get involved and raise money on their own, I don’t see why we should hinder them,” Avella said. “If they can provide a little extra for their particular school, I don’t see a reason in hindering them.”

Avella’s campaign website lists one of his major education accomplishments as working with parent-teacher associations to make schools in his Queens City Council district “the best in the five boroughs.”

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