Schools have been shortchanged in New York by as much as $9,600 per student because the state hasn’t upheld a 2007 agreement that would rapidly increase funding, a report obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau contends.
The report from the state’s Association of Small City School Districts late last month is part of the group’s argument that New York has reneged on a 2007 budget deal, and a court order, to increase school aid to ensure all students receive a “sound basic education.”
The group is suing the state to uphold the 2007 agreement. The case is set for trial in September.
“It’s completely inadequate,” the group’s executive director, Bob Biggerstaff, said of school aid. “These kids are not getting anywhere near the quality of education that your middle-class, your suburban communities are getting.”
The report identified what the group believes are the 50 most-underfunded schools in the state, saying they should be getting additional aid in the range of $4,200 to $9,600 more per student.
The list includes Rochester, with a per pupil shortfall of more than $5,000, putting it in the middle of the pack. The City School District’s total budget for the 2013-14 school years is about $734 million.
School aid in New York was cut for several years because of budget woes, but it has increased by at least 4 percent on average over the past two years.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a 3.8 percent increase, to a total of nearly $22 billion, in his budget plan for the fiscal year that starts April 1. He also proposed a $2 billion bond initiative to improve school technology.
Cuomo has argued that school aid continues to grow, and New York already spends the most per capita in the nation: $19,076 per student. He said the spending hasn’t led to better results because New York is in the middle of the nation in performance.
“It’s not about ‘more money gets us more results,’ ” Cuomo said in a radio interview last month. “Because if that was the case, our students would be doing better than any students in the country; because we are spending more than anyone else.”
The group’s report comes amid the yearly funding battle over school aid.