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SSFC REPORT: State Aid Formulas and NY Senate members are shortchanging our schools, children and communities 
 
East Syracuse, NY (December 1, 2011): The Statewide School Finance Consortium (SSFC), a New York coalition representing over half of the state's public school systems, has issued a report that addresses long-standing disparities in state education aid funding, with a focus on the performance of the 20 state Senators who represent the more than 350 school districts that comprise SSFC membership.
 
The report is divided into two parts.
 
* Part I is an in-depth examination of state financial support of public school funding since 2007, when the Spitzer administration introduced the new Foundation Aid formula.
 
* Part II is a performance analysis of the 20 state Senators - 17 Republicans and 3 Democrats - who represent SSFC school districts. The analysis utilizes State Education Department financial aid data to illustrate the impact of funding cuts on per-pupil spending and property tax levy bases in each Senate district, with comparisons to similar communities in other parts of the state.
 
To read the full report, click here.
 
Among the report's conclusions:
  • With no changes in the state aid formula, an estimated 100 to150 school districts will not have sufficient revenue or cash reserves to sustain themselves and will therefore face the prospect of financial insolvency within the next one to two years.
  • Under the new Tax Cap law wealthier school districts that are less dependent on state aid will be able to raise more money than less wealthy districts. Attaining the 60% super majority to go above the "tax levy limit" mandated in the new law will likely be unrealistic in these communities, which will force schools to continue an unsustainable process of further cuts to staff and program and use of reserves to stay in operation
  • Based on a study of the state's own data, Senators that represent SSFC school districts, regardless of political party affiliation, have appeared to be more influenced by the "Leadership culture" of their house than they are with helping to solve the issue of equitable funding to provide the children in their home communities with the same educational opportunities as children in more affluent communities.
  • Unfair distribution of state aid IS NOT an "Upstate vs. Downstate" issue. It's an issue ripe for reform. More than 30 Downstate school districts with similar wealth and poverty make-up face the same grim outlook as SSFC member districts.
"At the end of the day, the conclusions we reached in our report cry out for one thing - fairness," said SSFC Executive Director Dr. Rick Timbs. "Is it fair that children in New York will have significantly fewer educational opportunities only because they live in a less wealthy or poor community? Aren't these all our children? Don't they all deserve the same chance?"
 
The SSFC report was developed in advance of the upcoming state Legislative session and Executive Budget process to serve as a tool to help drive needed reform. The report's focus on the performance of the Senate was based on its particular role in shaping the education aid landscape in the late 1980's that has led to the present crisis for hundreds of New York's public schools.
 
According to Dr. Timbs, "some Senators that represent SSFC districts - like Senators DeFrancisco, Gallivan and Ritchie, have either introduced or are working with us to develop legislation that addresses our concerns. We deeply appreciate these efforts - but we've reached the point where we must have concrete results. Hundreds of school districts cannot wait any longer."
 
 

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