New database estimates how much schools are missing from equity settlement

Advocates for school funding equity have launched a new website to show families and the public exactly how much money their school or district is due but not receiving each year under a years-old legal settlement whose terms have yet to be fulfilled.

The new site, called “How much does NY State owe your school?” aims to turn up the heat on state officials to comply with the terms of the 2006 settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. The Alliance for Quality Education — the group responsible for today’s website launch— says the state owes the city about $2.5 billion.

The state’s highest court ruled nearly a decade ago that the state was denying students their constitutional right to a sound education by giving too little funding to high-need districts like New York City. The state legislature created a formula to distribute those funds, and the city has so far received $1.75 billion, but advocates have long claimed that amount is far from sufficient.

According to the new site’s database, the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan is being shorted $4.6 million because the state is not complying with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court decision; P.S. 345, the Patrolman Robert Bolden school in Brooklyn, is missing out on $1.7 million.

“If this was to reach every parent in New York City, they would understand more deeply the gravity of what our schools are not able to get in terms of money and what they need,” said Farheen Malik, a former teacher and current United Federation of Teachers employee who built the site. “I think [the website] is a speaking point, a way to educate.”

Malik built the site using data crunched by the Annenberg Insititute for School Reform and AQE.

The data presented on the website is not without its limitations. In a long explanation of the methodology used to present school- and district-level funding, Malik notes that school funding levels vary and often hinge on money allocated by the state for things like class-size reductions (known as Contracts for Excellence funding) and whether the city uses its Fair Student Funding Formula.

The figures presented for each school, Malik writes, are at best “fair and reasonable” estimates.

In recent weeks, CFE has become a rallying cry for many opponents of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education agenda. The governor has proposed adding $1.1 billion to the state’s education outlay, more than $1 billion less than the union and other funding-focused allies desire.