May 2015 Issue
April 28, 2015

State spends millions to fight fair funding for schools

Source: NYSUT United

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking great pains to prevent the state from funding schools fairly. His administration has already spent $1.7 million to pay private lawyers and witnesses to fight a lawsuit filed by eight small city school districts.

The suit, Maisto v. New York, challenges the state's failure to provide essential educational resources in the Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica city school districts. It says the state is violating the right of district students to a "sound, basic education" under the New York state constitution.

Specifically, the suit seeks to force the Legislature and Cuomo to abide by the education funding formula adopted in 2007 — "foundation formula" — established after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case.

In CFE, the court ordered the state to provide equitable funding for New York City schools, and recommended the state apply the same standards for low-wealth urban and rural districts upstate.

"I can't understand for the life of me why the state would spend so much money trying to deprive our neediest students of their basic right to a sound education," Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat who represents Utica, told Capital Pro, an online and mobile news service.

"I would invite any expert witness to take a tour of the schools in Utica with me and ask them if they think having 35 students in a kindergarten class will lead to good academic outcomes, because I can assure them, it won't."

Arguments in the case were heard in January and February. A decision is expected by year's end.

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