New York State Education Building
New York State Education Building

The State Education Department today approved the spending plans for 26 of the 39 school districts required to show how they will use state funds to help the neediest students in the lowest-performing schools. Absent from the list: New York City, along with a dozen other districts that haven’t yet convinced SED that they will spend their money in allowable ways.

After completing oversight of the first year’s Contracts for Excellence spending, the state last month singled out New York City for its failure to reduce class sizes as planned and imposed special requirements for the DOE to meet before its 2008-2009 contract will be approved. In addition to requiring the DOE to submit class size data for all schools, SED also asked for a detailed accounting of how Contracts for Excellence money was spent at the 70 schools that received more than $100,000 for class size reduction last year but actually saw an increase in class size.

Last year, the first that the Contracts for Excellence were required, the state didn’t approve any district’s Contract for Excellence until the end of November in part because of shortcomings in New York City’s plan, which initially earmarked too little money for class size reduction and too much for high-performing schools and standardized testing.