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December 3, 2013
Study: Colorado budget woes offset by recession, but fiscal quagmire still remains
Funding for Colorado's public schools should remain stable in the coming years, according to a new fiscal forecast by an independent think tank. But the Colorado Futures Center warns the state could see a $3 billion gap between its revenue and budget by 2030.
November 4, 2013
Also on the ballot: a divisive gambling proposal to fund schools
At left, state Senator Liz Krueger with New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long (credit: Andrew Goldston); At right, UFT President Michael Mulgrew with Assemblyman Keith Wright and Heather Briccetti, CEO of the New York State Business Council (in red). A gambling proposal up for public approval Tuesday is either a "godsend" for New York City schools, or a "bill of goods" filled with false promises. It just depends on whom you're talking to. The proposed amendment to the state constitution would allow the construction of up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos in New York State beyond those that already operate on American Indian reservations. Much of the tax revenue from the casinos would be funneled into city schools, which state budget officials have estimated could see as much as $94 million in annual revenue. "This will be a godsend and gift for our children in our educational system," Keith Wright, a state assemblyman and co-chair of the state's Democratic party, said last week. But others are lobbying against the proposal, cautioning that the promised dividends to schools might well be exaggerated.
February 21, 2013
Judge blocks Cuomo's $250M penalty on city schools, for now
Gov. Andrew Cuomo won't be able to penalize New York City for failing to adopt teacher evaluations while a lawsuit against the penalty makes its way through the courts, a State Supreme Court judge ruled today. The judge said Cuomo's latest ultimatum — that the city adopt a system or have one imposed — proved that a financial penalty was not the only way to motivate districts to adopt new evaluations. Cuomo announced last year that he would withhold increases in state school aid from districts that did not adopt new teacher evaluation systems by Jan. 17. New York City missed the deadline, and Cuomo said he would take back $250 million from the city's schools. But parents and advocates of equitable school funding sued, and a judge today issued an injunction against the penalty, at least until he has had more time to consider the merits of the lawsuit.
June 25, 2012
At P.S. 9, parents are rushing to fundraise for lost federal funds
P.S. 9, a Prospect Heights elementary school, faces a sudden budget shortfall. The city’s annual calculation of schools’ enrollment of poor students has at least one Brooklyn elementary school on the wrong side of an unyielding line. The city gives extra federal funds to schools where 60 percent of students are eligible for free lunch. P.S. 9, which hosts a gifted program in gentrifying Prospect Heights, has received the funds in the past, but now its enrollment of poor students has dropped — to 59.1 percent. That means the school won’t get the Title I funds, even though it has virtually the same proportion of eligible students as many other schools that will receive them. “It's sounds great that we’re coming out of a Title I position but we still don't have enough resources,” said Christine Scalon, secretary of the school’s parent-teacher organization. Scanlon and other parents are leading a frantic push to raise $160,000 by the end of the school year, the amount they have calculated the school is losing.
December 6, 2011
Students launch foundation to help their peers fill budget gaps
A screenshot of GrayMatter's website. As a student at Staten Island Technical High School, Jeremy Meyers couldn't always get the gear he needed as a member of the fencing team. The Model United Nations team he had helped start was scrambling for funds to attend conferences. And he saw that computer programming classes were cut alongside the school's budget. Instead of making do with less, Meyers, now a freshman at Columbia University, teamed up with classmates to develop a strategy to fill the budget gaps. The result is GrayMatter, a foundation that aims to make it easier for students to raise money for their schools. Modeled off of DonorsChoose, the website that many teachers use to solicit donations for school supplies, GrayMatter allows students in city schools to list projects in need of support, then collects and disburses funds on the students' behalf after verifying with school officials that the need is real. Right now, Jim, a senior at a Brooklyn school, still needs $282.72 to allow two members of a community service group to attend a leadership conference. The final bill comes to $612.72, and 17 people have already pitched in $330.
October 12, 2011
Bruised by suit, advocates try persuasion to boost school funds
Panelists discuss a slate of new papers about school funding in New York at Teachers College Tuesday night. Michael Rebell led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's landmark school finance lawsuit for 13 years, but for a long time the lawyer was conflicted about the case. He believed what he ultimately convinced the courts: that the state had given New York City schools less than their fair share of funding. But he was also persuaded by a counter-argument that he heard during the litigation: that more money wouldn't help schools whose biggest problem was poverty. And the lawsuit itself wasn't helping him reconcile the tension. "We have this adversary system for dealing with legal matters in our courts, where two warring sides take firm and opposite opinions," he said. "The truth is sometimes more complicated than that." Now, months after CFE laid off its last employee and the state trimmed the equity dollars for the second time, Rebell is trying a different approach to advocate for poor students. As the director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank housed at Columbia University's Teachers College, Rebell is setting out to win not a legal victory but the hearts and minds of policymakers. His first step: To solicit a set of academic papers, released this week and discussed at Teachers College Tuesday night, that make the case for what he calls "comprehensive educational equity." A main point of the papers is, as the CFE lawsuit contended and the New York Times reported earlier this week, that the state should give more to its schools — $4,750 per poor student, to be precise. But they also sketch out a policy platform that Rebell said could help close racial and class achievement gaps.
September 25, 2011
Is your Colorado kid shortchanged by $30,000?
Great Education Colorado had a wonderful lunch event last Wednesday, honoring Cary Kennedy (disclosure – I am a board member of Great Ed). In his introductory remarks at the event, State Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, noted that Colorado is spending nearly $2,000 less per pupil than the national average. And, having been on the recent leadership exchange (LEX) visit to Boston, he noted that school districts in tMassachusetts, the highest performer on the NAEP tests, spend about $7,000 more per pupil than we do in Colorado. Johnston also reported that this amounts to about $175,000 more per class room (!) that Massachusetts spends than we do in Colorado. Since our K-12 and higher education funding problems in Colorado have been with us for nearly 20 years, I think people lose sight of how large they are, and even many people in favor of more funding shrink at the political prospect of trying to generate more resources (or they have a version of Stockholm syndrome, not to be confused with Finland syndrome). In K-12 funding, by the most conservative estimates, Colorado is at least $1,500 per student below the national average in spending. And, in higher education, the state support is about $3,000 per pupil below the national average.
February 15, 2011
Report: Most city charter schools receive more per-pupil funds
Reversing its earlier findings, the city's Independent Budget Office has concluded in a new study that most New York City charter schools receive more funding per student than their district school peers. A year ago, an IBO study found that charter schools housed in public school buildings received $305 less per student than district schools for the 2008-09 school year. Now, the office has revised its methodology and has reached a very different conclusion. In 2008-09, charter schools in district space were given $701 more per student than traditional public schools, the new study finds. For the 2009-10 school year, that disparity shrunk to $649.
December 23, 2010
Week of 12/20/10: Teaching & learning tidbits
The latest on Colorado's grim school funding picture; U.S. boys lagging in reading; Aurora charter school expansion clears hurdles; Aurora's Rebound Program has success with hard-to-serve students.
June 29, 2010
Fight over charter school funding freeze pushed to next year
After repeatedly lobbying the mayor to find more funding for charter schools, charter school leaders believe the battle in Albany is over for this year. The state's education spending for next year is still in limbo: Yesterday, Paterson vetoed a budget that included $419 million in education aid, and the legislature may or may not override the veto. But with no players — neither the governor nor the legislature — showing interest in unfreezing charter school funds, advocates are now setting their sights on next year. "People are already lining up for the 2012 budget," said James Merriman, head of the city's Charter School Center. One last hope for charter school supporters is that Mayor Bloomberg might himself un-do the funding freeze with city funds. Charter school leaders have been petitioning City Hall to fill in the funding freeze using city dollars. On Friday, the mayor made his first public call for equal per-pupil funding for charter schools in a letter sent to Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson (printed in full below the jump). But the mayor stopped short of demanding that some of the funds be given to charter schools this year: It is in keeping with our commitment to fairness and equity that we treat all public schools, charter and non-charter, alike. Given the complexities involved, it would be unreasonable to think that all of the issues involved will be resolved in this session. What is essential is that we move forward with a commitment to end disproportionality.
July 31, 2009
Avella says he would change city's school funding formula
As mayor, City Councilman Tony Avella would undo Mayor Bloomberg's trademark school funding program, Avella told GothamSchools in a an exclusive interview. Currently, the city uses a program called Fair Student Funding to give schools money based on the needs of the students they serve. Under Fair Student Funding, a school with more students scoring at the lowest level on state tests would get more money than a school where the majority of students are meet the standards for proficiency, for example.
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