Schenectady Schools Help Kick Off Statewide Fact-Finding Tour

Sen. Robert Jackson, Plaintiff in CFE School Equity Lawsuit, Documenting Impact of Inequities in Funding on Students

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (February 4, 2019) — Schenectady City School District took part in a statewide Fact Finding Tour on Monday, as part of a collaboration with New York State Senator Robert Jackson, lead plaintiff in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) school funding lawsuit, and public education advocacy organization the Alliance for Quality Education.

As the State Legislature debates the budget for the upcoming year, Jackson and AQE will be visiting school districts across the state in coming weeks, with the aim of documenting the real-life educational consequences of New York State’s decades of underfunding for public schools and students. School officials took the Fact Finding Team on a tour of to highlight what students need to succeed, as well as resources that are lacking. The team will be looking at impacts including the loss of teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, nurses and other staff; the lack of interventions and supports for at-risk students; the need for art, music, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, electives, extracurricular activities, sports programs and after school programs.  

“Through these visits to schools across our state, I am finding in each instance that the paltry $338 million in Foundation Aid that Governor Cuomo’s budget offers is truly an insult to our children. These districts are not getting the resources they need from the state. The Governor’s plan to address the supposed “inequities” within districts is a smoke-and-mirrors game intended to erase the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. But the Foundation Aid formula must be fulfilled. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity is alive and well. My colleagues in the Senate and I will continue fighting until our schools statewide are given the $4.1 billion they are owed to ensure a quality education for all New York children,” said Senator Robert Jackson.

“I am pleased to welcome Senator Jackson, advocates from AQE, Citizen Action of New York and all who are here to stand up for our students.  I am extremely grateful for your efforts, commitment and ongoing support in the fight to get our schools the funding that we are not only entitled to, but that we desperately need in order to address the extreme need of our students and to begin closing the opportunity gap.  High need school districts, and especially those that serve predominantly students of color, have been starved of much needed resources for far too long. We cannot allow this to continue to happen. I’m confident that the impact of the funding inequities, on both our students and the Schenectady community, will be evident as you learn more about our district through this fact-finding tour,” said Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring.

“Many of the districts that provide education to low-income students simply do not have the resources to provide the “sound, basic education” that’s guaranteed by the state constitution—it’s time to change that,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “With this initiative we are taking an important step towards identifying the needs of our students and strengthening our public education system.”

“Reliance on local property taxes for education funding is self-defeating.  It is quite rare to find any community whose taxpayers can afford to fund, or which has the property tax base to fund, a sound public education system. Therefore, Foundation Aid from the state is critical to the future success of our students,” said Assemblyman Phil Steck, District 110.

“As a former teacher, guidance counselor, athletic director and coach, I’m proud to have been a driving force in the state Senate the past two years for state budgets that substantially increased funding to the Schenectady City School District by $17.7 million and boosted Foundation Aid by $9 million while helping secure $150,000 in grant funding for counseling services and summer enrichment programs. All of our schools, including Schenectady, deserve fair funding to provide children with the kind of education they need and deserve to learn and grow.  I will continue to be a strong voice for fair funding of our schools and fight to ensure that money goes Upstate and not poured into New York City schools and downstate interests,” said Senator Jim Tedisco, District 49.

“Districts like Schenectady are exactly why New York State needs to renew its commitment to funding the Foundation Aid Formula. High need communities are dependent on state aid to meet the educational needs of students. When state aid falls short, these students are the ones who suffer most. Every year the Foundation Aid goes unfunded, is another year of systemic educational neglect. We have to break this harmful cycle by enacting a state budget that fully funds our schools,” said Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

“With every increase Schenectady has seen a return on the investment with increases in student success. The Governor needs to set his pride aside and fully fund our schools. He professes to prioritize all children yet still denies Black, Brown, Latinx and low-income school districts like Schenectady the funding they are owed to fully educate all of our children,” said Jamaica Miles, Citizen Action of New York.