FACT SHEET: Cuomo’s Proposal to Repeal the Foundation Aid Commitment
The Facts about the Cuomo Proposal to Repeal the State’s Foundation Aid Commitment
Governor Cuomo has proposed changes that would gut the Foundation Aid formula—the formula created by the state in 2007 in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The Foundation Aid formula is designed to ensure all students have access to the “sound basic education” that is their constitutional right.
The Purpose of the Foundation Aid Formula
The primary purpose of the Foundation Aid formula is to ensure that all students have access to a “sound basic education” as guaranteed under New York State’s constitution. To accomplish this, the formula determines how much Foundation Aid each school district needs to have the funding necessary to provide students an adequate education. As a result the formula calculates the total amount of Foundation Aid the state is obligated to provide for each school district—the Board of Regents currently has calculated $4.3 billion owed statewide. The Foundation Aid formula creates a fair method for distributing funds using a series of factors and weightings based upon student poverty, English language learners, students with disabilities and local income levels and property values. The Foundation Aid formula, if utilized, provides predictable and transparent school funding and replaced a highly manipulated web of more than 30 formulas that relied on political horse trading to determine school funding levels.
The Impact of the Governor’s Proposed Changes
- The impact is plain and simple: the state would no longer owe school districts Foundation Aid as a result of CFE. A $4.3 billion debt owed by New York State to our students would be wiped off of the books.
- The amount of Foundation Aid schools would receive would be locked in at the 2017-18 levels in perpetuity.
- There is a spending gap of $10,000 per pupil between rich and poor schools in New York State. This gap has grown to a record setting level under Governor Cuomo. If the Foundation Aid formula is fully funded over the next two years, this gap would be reduced. But Governor Cuomo’s proposed changes would guarantee that this gap will keep growing larger and larger.
The Proposed Formula Changes
Governor Cuomo has proposed several changes to the Foundation Aid formula. He proposes to repeal the very heart of the formula. He would eliminate any obligation within the formula to provide the level of funding necessary for a “sound basic education.” He eliminates the multi-year phase-in of the $4.3 billion currently owed—undoing decades of work by families, communities, educators, advocates, the Board of Regents and the legislature. Foundation Aid would be frozen at 2017-18 levels based upon one key sentence:
For the 2018-19 school year and thereafter, districts shall be eligible for foundation aid equal to the amount of foundation aid such districts received in the 2017-18 school year.
Simultaneously the Governor proposes some changes to the formula which may have the impact of adding greater priority for poverty and other measures of student need. If these changes work as intended, they would be positive, but that is totally undone by the fact that the Governor would eliminate any future Foundation Aid commitment. It’s like getting a new paint job for your car in exchange for having the engine and tires removed.
Lack of Transparency and Misrepresentation
The Cuomo Administration failed to be transparent or forthcoming about these changes. The Governor made six State of the State presentations, he held a briefing for reporters that was livestreamed, and he published a budget briefing book that is supposed to explain the budget. But never once did the Administration mention this major and dramatic change.
When advocates uncovered this proposal in the budget bills, the Administration did not attempt to refute the content of the advocates’ assertions by pointing to specific budget bill language. Instead they simply put out a press release which lacked facts to back up their claims.
This may be business as usual in Albany, but we should expect better.
For More Information, Contact:
Alliance for Quality Education
94 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
About The Alliance for Quality Education
The Alliance for Quality Education is a coalition mobilizing communities across the state to keep New York true to its promise of ensuring a high quality public education to all students regardless of zip code, income or race. Combining its legislative and policy expertise with grassroots organizing, AQE advances proven-to-work strategies that lead to student success and echo a powerful public demand for a high quality education. Please visit www.aqeny.org.