NY boosts school spending to $34 billion, despite lackluster results: report

 

New York spends nearly twice the national average on school aid per student — “without delivering above-average results in achievement,” budget watchdogs said Monday.

This school year, state support will top $34 billion across more than 700 local districts — a 6.7% increase since last school year, a new report from the Citizens Budget Commission found.

Including federal COVID aid, the Empire State’s schools spend on average $34,272 per student, without more accountability to match the higher price tag.

“It is past time for the State’s leaders to chart a path forward for sustainable and effective State education spending,” the report said.

“This will require better targeting aid to districts with the greatest need, tracking their performance, and holding districts accountable for delivering high-quality education.”

The CBC recommended Monday the state should only increase funds for districts with greater needs — and reduce the amount it spends on areas that can support their own schools.

The report blasted the state for directing more than $3 billion in aid to 176 wealthy school districts — which already raise enough local and federal funds to support a sound, basic education. Together, they account for 9% of the state’s school aid.

NY boosts school spending to  billion, despite lackluster results: report
This school year, state support will top $34 billion across more than 700 local districts.
J.C. Rice
School.
New York schools spend on average $34,272 per student, without more accountability to match the higher price tag.
J.C. Rice

On top of that, the state is sending another $10.5 billion — close to a third of state education funding — to districts over the amount they say is necessary for adequate schools.

“Lawmakers will likely need to find billions in annual savings to balance the budget due to lower tax receipts projections,” said the good government group.

“Reforming school aid — the largest area of State funds spending in the budget — could deliver significant savings.”

The CBC also suggested reforms to the state’s complicated funding formula known as Foundation Aid — New York’s main source of state funds for public schools. The formula is supposed to account for the costs of educating each student and their varying levels of need, plus a locality’s ability to raise its own funds.

Students.
New York spends nearly twice the national average “without delivering above-average results in achievement.”
Robert Miller

But experts have repeatedly called into question whether the formula meets its stated goal as an equalizer, or if its weights should be rethought for the first time since its beginnings in 2007, according to the nonprofit education site Chalkbeat.

Some faults in the formula the report called out include provisions that prohibit any decrease in Foundation Aid — even if a school district’s enrollment is declining or local wealth is increasing — and outdated measures of students’ needs. Poverty level, for example, relies on data from the 2000 Census.

The state has also taken years to fully fund Foundation Aid, with the phase-in set to be completed after the 2023-24 school year.

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