In a letter to New York State lawmakers, Education Law Center, along with the Alliance for Quality Education, Class Size Matters and NYC Kids PAC, offered full support for the Assembly and Senate budget proposal to increase foundation aid by $1.2 billion, the first installment of a three-year phase-in to full funding of the Foundation Aid Formula.
In response to the landmark school funding case, Campaign for Fiscal Equity vs. State (CFE), the NY Legislature in 2007 enacted the Foundation Aid Formula requiring an additional $5.5. billion in state aid over four years. After years of neglect, the State remains $4 billion in arrears on its funding obligation to New York school children. The $1.2 billion proposed in the Senate and Assembly budget is the first serious commitment to fulfill that obligation in over a decade.
In addition to moving to full foundation aid funding, ELC and its partners are also calling for the Legislature to renew the Contract for Excellence (C4E) to ensure the foundation aid increases support resources essential to effectuate the constitutional right to a sound basic education.
In 2007, as a companion to the Foundation Aid Formula, the Legislature enacted the C4E law. C4E requires districts in need of improvement receiving additional foundation aid to develop a spending plan to provide research-proven resources and programs, including small class sizes, extended learning time, and full-day kindergarten.
Because of the acute overcrowding in New York City classrooms, the C4E law imposed a specific mandate for class size reduction in city schools. C4E required the City Department of Education to develop a class size reduction plan, establishing class size average targets to be achieved in five years.
The City did put in place a class size reduction plan in 2007, but never fulfilled that plan. As a result, class sizes remain exceedingly high. Over 40,000 kindergarten through third graders, and over 336,000 students overall, are consigned to classes with 30 students or more. When city parents sued to enforce the C4E class size reduction mandate in 2017, the State Commissioner of Education dismissed the lawsuit. The parents have appealed, and the lawsuit is now pending in the Appellate Division in Albany.
ELC and its partners are pressing the Legislature to reauthorize the C4E law, including the City class size reduction mandate, in this year’s State Budget. C4E remains critical to ensuring accountability and transparency regarding how education dollars are spent. It also will allow the legal effort to secure meaningful and comprehensive relief from overcrowded classrooms in City schools to continue.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications