Potential deal to deliver $4.2B in aid would be ‘game changer’ for NYC schools: de Blasio

Students exit following the return to in-person learning for New York City High School students, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, at John Jay High School in Brooklyn, New York
New York City’s public schools could get $4.2 billion in additional aid through a funding deal being hammered out as part of state budget negotiations.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A potential deal between state lawmakers to provide $4.2 billion in long-awaited, long-delayed state aid to public schools over the next three years would be a “game changer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday. 

The extra funds would fulfill a 2006 court decision, called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling, in which the New York court of appeals reaffirmed a 2003 decision that the state’s school finance system underfunded New York City public schools and denied its students their constitutional right of a “sound, basic education.”

Under the deal, the state would pump billions in extra money into Foundation Aid, the state’s main source of school funding, to adhere to the court ruling which would come from $7 billion worth of new taxes proposed by the Assembly and the state Senate.

Advocates have long pushed for Governor Andrew Cuomo to fully fund the Foundation Aid formula to comply with the court order. 

“It’s going to be a game changer for New York City public schools,” said de Blasio. “It’s going to allow us to do so many of the things we need to do long term.” 

De Blasio explained the boost in funding could help the City keep many of its pandemic promises like expanding 3-k for All across all school districts by the fall granting more students access to mental health providers, social workers in schools to help young people recover from trauma experienced over the last year. 

“It’s going to just give us so many more tools to enrich the academic experience. I mean, this is absolutely amazing, and it’s going to finally allow New York City public schools to reach their full potential,” de Blasio added. “ I just want to thank Speaker Carl Heastie and [state Senate] Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for continuing to keep the Campaign for Fiscal Equity front and center, and, you know, taking this bold step because it’s been decades overdue, but it’s a reminder, never give up the fight because eventually, you know, the right comes through and the right side wins.” 

Meanwhile, advocates are excited to see the long-awaited funds could finally be distributed to high-need schools across the five boroughs. 

“If these proposals are reflected in the enacted budget, it would represent a major step in the right direction that would set New York’s pre-K-12 education system on a road to build back better,” said Jasmine Gripper, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, a group that has long advocated for increasing Foundation Aid. 

State legislators have until April 1 to pass a new budget for the upcoming year.