NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2004


Assembly Unveils Plan To Ensure
"Sound, Basic Education For All Children"

Assembly Majority: Reform + Resources = Results

Silver (Center), at a Capitol news conference, unveils Assembly Majority's plan to address the Court of Appeals Court ruling in the Campaign For Fiscal Equity case, which requires the state to provide the resources to ensure a sound, basic education for each student.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Education Committee Chair Steven Sanders, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr. and Majority Leader Paul Tokasz today unveiled an education proposal that will ensure that every school district in the state receives the resources needed to provide a quality education.

"As lawmakers we have a constitutional and moral obligation to provide all of New York's children with a sound, basic education," said Silver. "Our proposal not only responds to the guidelines set by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) court decision, it provides a comprehensive, statewide approach for reforming our school funding system so that all our schools have the resources needed to prepare our children to compete for the jobs of tomorrow."

The Assembly Majority proposal will phase in an additional $6.1 billion more in operating aid for schools over the next five years - with New York City schools receiving 63.9 percent of that funding and more than 86 percent going to high need districts across the state. For this year, alone, the Assembly increases school aid for the 2004-05 school year by $1.223 billion - restoring the governor's cuts to BOCES Aid, Transportation Aid, Teacher Support Aid and programs for disabled children.

"Targeting additional state aid to high need school districts is a key requirement laid out by the court under the CFE decision. We address this mandate by providing significantly more resources for the state's high need school districts than either the governor's or Senate's proposals," said Sanders. "Our plan fulfills the requirements of CFE and responds to the unique opportunity to overhaul the way our state distributes education resources."

"This is a plan that works for all students in the State of New York, while also satisfying the court's decision for the City," said Farrell. "In addition to providing necessary resources, our approach will also allow districts to better plan their programs and budgets."

"I am pleased to join the Speaker and Chairman Sanders in supporting this equitable proposal. The Assembly plan will ensure that high need school districts across the state, including the City of Buffalo school district, will receive adequate funding so that all of our children will receive a sound, basic education," said Tokasz.

Silver uses a chalk board at the news conference to explain the Assembly Majority's formula to ensure a sound, basic education for all children: Reform + Resources = Results

Stabilizing Education Funding Through A New Statewide "Foundation" Formula

The cornerstone of the Assembly's education proposal, similar to the Regents' plan, is the creation of a new "foundation" formula to help stabilize education funding from year to year. This reform initiative provides for a more transparent operating aid formula that reflects regional costs, student need, enrollment and a local community's fiscal capacity.

According to Silver, all school districts will receive at least a minimum year-to-year operating aid increase through the new foundation formula.

In addition, this approach delivers funding to address the CFE decision by supporting smaller classes, attracting and retaining quality teachers with competitive teacher compensation and training opportunities and providing enriched learning opportunities in order for students to meet the Regents Learning Standards.

New Capital Program To Meet Educational Infrastructure Needs

In an effort to address the infrastructure needs of our state's schools the Assembly plan establishes a $2.2 billion capital program, of which $1.3 billion is targeted to New York City to meet the first year needs of their capital plan. This funding will help school districts across the state renovate and repair unsafe buildings, relieve overcrowded classrooms and update technology.

Funding for the statewide capital grant program is dedicated from revenues derived from currently authorized VLTs. The dedication of $240 million in VLT revenues will leverage a $2.2 billion capital program beginning in 2004-05.

Education Committee Chair Steve Sanders tells reporters that only the Assembly plan meets the requirements of the Court of Appeals decision, providing significantly more resources for the state's high-need school districts than either the governor's or the Senate's proposals.
Continued Investment Within General Support for Public Schools

According to Sanders, the five-year plan also restores cuts made and continues vital education programs historically supported by the Assembly, including BOCES, transportation and building aid programs.

Additionally, the Assembly's proposal continues support for universal pre-K, after school programming, textbooks, library materials, professional development for teachers and programs for disabled children.

Enhancing New York City's Contribution

The Assembly plan also calls for an enhanced maintenance of effort by New York City. The City should contribute an additional $1.2 billion over the next five years to be targeted in ways that will support innovative programs which directly impact student achievement.

Such programs may include teacher recruitment and retention initiatives, professional development activities, and creative approaches to attract teachers to teach in high need schools, such as school enterprise zones.

Greater Accountability To Ensure Academic Achievement By All Students

The Assembly proposal seeks to strengthen and support the accountability measures that have been instituted by the Board of Regents and the State Education Department. These provisions which have been adopted require specific measures for meeting standards, yearly progress and a thorough planning and reporting process.

What is missing is the financial support to ensure that the information collected will be translated into implementation of best practices by school districts that have been identified as needing assistance in meeting standards. The Assembly plan provides that support in the form of resources for training, technical assistance and increased staffing are necessary for school districts to make the changes that they need to succeed.

Click here to view school aid runs

Click here to view Speaker Silver's remarks.

Click here to view the Report of the Ways And Means Committee on the New York State Assembly School Aid Reform Proposal