Facebook Twitter

Advocacy groups continue calling for billions from Fiscal Equity settlement

As a number of education lawsuits fight for headlines, a new report is trying to call attention back to one suit advocates already won.

The report calls out New York state for not giving New York City and other high-need districts billions of dollars they are owed from the 2007 settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. Three advocacy groups say the state owes the city about $2.5 billion, and that the per-student amount owed to New York City is double what’s owed to wealthy districts.

Seven years ago, the state’s highest court ruled the state was denying students their constitutional right to a sound education by giving too little funding to high-need districts such as New York City. The state legislature created a formula to distribute those funds, and the city has so far received $1.75 billion.

But the dollars received have fallen far short of what was promised in the settlement. The extra funding was initially provided, but then ebbed after the 2008 recession, which forced steep cuts to education.

Easton and other funding advocates have said that the economy has stabilized in recent years and that it’s time to restore the increases.

“With a $6.2 billion surplus going into next year, they can definitely come up with a plan to fund the schools over the next four years,” Easton said.

The report comes out as all eyes have been on the two lawsuits challenging teacher tenure organized this year by activists Campbell Brown and Mona Davids, which also hinge on the idea that the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation to provide students with a “sound basic education.” (Each side has criticized the other’s focus.)

Easton said his organization and the other advocacy groups hope to make the issue a topic for debate in the gubernatorial election this fall. Students from eight smaller districts upstate will head to court in December to argue they that they haven’t received the necessary resources for their education.