May 22, 2023

A report released Monday by the Alliance for Quality Education and Education Law Center presents recommendations for a review of the sixteen-year-old New York State Foundation Aid formula to ensure it is delivering the resources necessary to provide an adequately funded and equitable public education to all New York students.

The 2023-24 school year marks the final year of the three-year Foundation Aid phase-in and the first time that public schools will receive the full funding committed by New York State. The report, titled “Improving the Foundation Aid Formula in New York State,” argues that with that milestone it is now time for the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to take a critical look at how the formula can be revised and improved to reflect advancements in school finance, current curriculum standards, and the values and needs of communities across New York State. Read the report here.

The report notes:

“After sixteen years, a period that has seen major changes to educational standards and curriculum, and an evolving definition of the resources schools need to meet those expectations, New York’s funding formula is clearly out of date. Updating the Foundation Aid formula to ensure that it is fair, adequate and equitable is a necessary next step in ensuring economic and racial justice for students across New York.”

Among its recommendations, the report specifies ways to ensure that the formula review is comprehensive and responsive to the needs of New York’s students, especially those who have been deprived of adequate funding for years.

Recommendations for the process include:

  • The path forward begins with NYSED engaging in a public process that brings traditionally marginalized voices to the table to gather feedback and explore their understanding of the resources necessary for an adequate and equitable education.
    • NYSED should explore using an alternative methodology to accurately assess the base cost for the Foundation Aid formula.
    • NYSED should explore alternative student poverty measurements to ensure an accurate count of the number of students in need of additional services.
    • NYSED should explore a study to determine the cost of the additional resource needs generated by student poverty.
    • NYSED should explore a study on the costs of effective strategies for supporting multilingual learners.
    • NYSED should explore a study to improve the distribution of special education funding. This should include an evaluation of the costs associated with special education and the mechanism through which funding is distributed.
    • NYSED should conduct or commission a study to improve measurement of school district wealth and identify policy solutions for phasing out hold harmless and other aids that violate equity goals.
    • State lawmakers must appropriate dedicated funding, as requested by NYSED, to support the research and other activities that are required to update the formula.

    While the State Education Department requested an allocation of $1 million to contract with school finance experts and engage communities in this process, the New York State 2023-24 enacted budget did not include those funds. Nevertheless, NYSED must undertake this project even without those new funds.

    “Full funding of the state school funding formula is long overdue, and we applaud all of the students, families, educators, advocates and elected officials who worked tirelessly to reach that goal,” said Danielle Farrie, Education Law Center Research Director and report co-author. “But now there is another task at hand: making sure the funding formula provides the resources New York students across the state need to succeed in school today. That requires an in-depth analysis that includes all stakeholders.”

    “With Foundation Aid now fully funded, we can focus our attention on ensuring that the formula is truly meeting the needs of all New York’s students,” said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, Operations and Policy Director at the Alliance for Quality Education and report co-author. “The Foundation Aid formula has been in place for over two decades, and while it was designed to meet the educational needs of students at the time, it may not be adequately doing so currently. With input from educators, parents, and other members of the school community, we can identify areas where improvements are necessary going forward. By ensuring that all students are receiving the resources and support they need to succeed and thrive, we can put New York on a path for educational justice and true equity.”

    Press Contact:

    Sharon Krengel
    Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
    973-624-1815, x 240

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    Press Contact:
    Sharon Krengel
    Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
    973-624-1815, x240