Struggling Schools Get Annual $60 M Boost

Struggling Schools Get Annual $60 M Boost

Photo: Mayor de Blasio in March visited Richmond Hill High School, one of 130 Renewal schools across the five boroughs. Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office.

Next year, 130 struggling schools in New York City will be getting close to an additional $34 million for academic programs and staffing, and an additional $60 million per year thereafter.

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced a plan to finally invest Fair Student Funding, a combination of city and state funds, for 130 Renewal Schools, Community Schools, and Persistently Failing Schools throughout the five boroughs.  The additional funds will get the schools to 100 percent of their funding for the first time, enabling them to serve special needs students or English Language Learners.

“These new investments will make a real difference: more AP classes, more guidance counselors, extra tutors, and schools open longer. We have a plan for these schools’ success and we’re going to make sure they have the tools to turn around and raise student achievement,” said de Blasio.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement in 2006 called on the State to fully fund all public schools adequately, and in 2007 the previous administration introduced Fair Student Funding. The formula, in sum, begins with a fixed foundation of $225,000 for all schools, adding monies based on student grade levels, needs, and enhanced weights for students in “portfolio” or specialized education high schools. In 2013, a report showed that 94 percent of schools were not receiving the full amount they were due based on that plan. The deficit for New York City alone is $2.6 billion, though nearly two billion has been paid out since the formula was created.

The new resources announced this week are on top of the $150 million committed last November as part of de Blasio’s School Renewal Program.  School Renewal identified 94 schools throughout the city, 12 of them in Queens, which, on top of four discretionary schools of the DOE Chancellor’s choosing, meet all three of the following criteria: 1) were identified as Priority or Focus Schools by the State Department of Education, either performing in the lowest 5% statewide or the lowest 10% in a subgroup; 2) demonstrated low academic achievement for each of the three prior years; and 3) scored “proficient” or below on their most recent quality review.

After a school is identified as a Renewal School, the goal is then to transform it into a Community School, whereby partnerships with community-based organizations are key in enabling the school to offer extended learning time and other resources such as mental health services.

Persistently Failing schools are defined as those that have been ranked in the bottom for at least a decade.

In February, the Alliance for Quality Education launched a new website called “How much does NY State owe your school?” to spur compliance with the terms of the 2006 settlement.  Typing in a school name or number yields a quick calculation, with some schools owed well into seven figures.

One hundred thirty of the schools that met Fair Student Funding criteria will now receive 100 percent of what they’ve been owed nearly ten years.  For the 94 Renewal Schools that are part of that group, the increase will be around $250,000 per year.  The new minimum percentage of needs-based funding that will be met is 82 percent, up from 81 – meaning that some 400 schools and over 250,000 students will now benefit from the altered plan.  To qualify for funding, schools must submit applications that demonstrate a detailed plan of how new funds would be spent, with clear-cut advancements of attendance, credit accumulation, test scores, and on-time graduation rate metrics.

By Eugénie Bisulco


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