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June 19 2013
INEQUITIES IN STATE AID
Superintendents join Spring for
discussion about disparate impact & possible civil rights
Superintendent Larry Spring was
joined by leaders from the City School District of Albany, the
Enlarged City School District of Middletown and Copiague Public
Schools on Wednesday, June 12, to discuss how their school
districts are disparately impacted due to the way New York State
school aid is implemented and how to make a push for New York
State leaders to do something about it. The superintendents are
exploring the possibility of filing a complaint with the Office
of Civil Rights (OCR). They will continue to discuss the options
and soon decide how to move forward.
Spring, who has
embraced the notion of equity and emphasized such since his
first days in Schenectady, said he is outraged that the color of
a school district plays a role in determining state funding. He
invited other superintendents to the table at Proctors recently
to talk about the issue, share thoughts and ideas and decide how
to proceed. Spring has already brought his data and concerns to
the attention of state lawmakers, to no avail. He said that the
state government is not voluntarily going to take money away
from wealthier districts and give it to the districts that are
unfunded; unless, they are forced by the federal government.
“Being poor is not a protected class,” said Spring. “However, if
you are driving aid away from a protected class of citizens …
that’s a federal issue.” After having some preliminary
conversations with OCR, Spring is compelled to continue the
Superintendent Marguerite VandenWyngaard of
Albany, Dr. Kenneth Eastwood of Middletown, Charles Leunig of
Copiague and Spring each lead districts that are majority
non-white, have a less than average combined wealth ratio and
are being significantly shortchanged in state aid.
shows that school districts that are predominately white are
much more likely to receive a greater portion of their school
funding than districts in which minorities are the majority. In
fact, Spring said that a minority-as-majority districts are
three times as likely to be underfunded.
of the poorest districts in the state with a CWR of .386, is 66%
non-white and receives just 54% of Foundation Aid, a difference
of $62 million.
All four districts are funded well below
the median of 82%. Albany has a CWR of .727, is 60% non-white
and receives 64% of funding. Middletown has a CWR of .594, is
77% non-white and receives 56% of funding. Copiague has a CWR of
.708, is 80% non-white and receives 55% of funding.
superintendents are convinced that state politics are
interfering with change. “But, the federal government has the
power to step in and say, ‘This is not ok,’” said Spring.
“We’re right back where we were in the 60's relative to the
distribution of state aid in a discriminatory manner,” said
Eastwood, who has already filed a complaint with the local
NAACP. “It’s time for the groups that represent those students
and families to start getting a little loud and a little
emphatic about saying ‘wait a minute, our kids deserve what is
necessary'.” Like Schenectady’s superintendent, Eastwood is not
hiding and said that he will speak up about it. “It’s absolutely
unfair, based on color,” he said. “No one wants to talk about
“Having to cut services that most likely help kids
catch up and level the playing fields… I think that is actually
antithetical to the purpose of public education,” said Spring.
He also emphasized that the situation has a significant impact
on the entire community. “As the tax rate goes up, we see an
increase in the numbers of foreclosures and evictions. That
lowers property values,” he said.
The leaders left the
meeting with some key questions to mull over. Will they file a
complaint? If yes, will they do it individually or together?
What will the timing of that be? Should another group file the
complaint instead but with support of the districts? They also
spoke about reaching out to outside agencies like the NAACP and
the Black/Hispanic Caucus.
They will reconvene and do
hope to have a plan in the works this summer.
June 19 2013
6th grader upset over funding inequities & discrimination, calls
for meeting with the superintendent