A Court-appointed panel of special masters in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity school finance case has recommended that the State of New York increase funding to improve education programs for 1.2 million New York City students, and to upgrade facilities.

After reviewing various cost studies, the CFE panel recommended $5.3 billion in additional operating aid for standards-based education and extra programs for low-income and special needs students, to be phased-in over the next four years. The panel recommended $9.2 billion in facilities improvements. The panel also recommended the State re-evaluate education and facilities costs every four and five years, respectively.

The panel made its recommendations to the trial judge in the CFE case. In 2003, New York’s highest court gave the Legislature and Governor one year to improve funding for New York City schools. When no action was taken, the trial judge appointed the panel to recommend a specific remedy.

The CFE recommendations include several of the measures ordered for New Jersey’s 300,000 urban students in the Abbott v. Burke litigation, including a $1.8 billion aid increase for standards-based education and supplemental programs. The Abbott order also requires an estimated $12 billion for new and renovated school facilities.

The appointment of special masters in CFE to make detailed funding recommendations is a judicial tool used successfully in the Abbott case. In 1997, the NJ Supreme Court appointed an Appellate Judge to conduct hearings and make findings and recommendations on the funding, facilities and accountability measures needed to ensure an “thorough and efficient” education for urban students. Those recommendations formed the basis for the Court’s 1998 Abbott V ruling, which ordered the NJ Legislature to fund preschool and other K-12 programs, and school construction.

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