Report: New York has increased spending on education, but still needs accountability

By Steve Bittenbender

A study by a nonpartisan watchdog group released Monday found that education spending has risen dramatically in New York in recent years and the state still needs a comprehensive system to review performance and achievement.

The Citizens Budget Commission found that public schools will receive $34.4 billion in aid for the current school year, which is a 6.7% increase from last year. The report says $3.1 billion, or about 9% of that funding, goes to more than 175 districts with enough local and federal funding to meet state requirements for “Sound Basic Education.”

Beyond that, $10.5 billion in funding goes to districts that allow them to exceed SBE guidelines.

The report said, among other things, “Given its current fiscal pressure and high taxes, the state should stop increasing assistance to affluent districts that fund GSN through local revenue and regular federal assistance; consider freezing aid to the wealthiest municipalities that already receive state aid in excess of the amount required for an SBE; and reforming both Foundation aid and many expenditure-based aids to direct more funds to districts in need.

While school funding continues to increase, student numbers are in a period of decline. Even discounting the aid from COVID measures, the combined local, state and federal funding per student of $32,757 is 7.4% higher than last year.

The study also shows that spending per student in New York exceeded the national average. In 2007, New York’s spending was almost two-thirds higher than the national average. In 2020, New York spending was 90% higher than the national average.

Despite this amount of funding, the CBC called on the state for not having “adequate systems to steer and measure performance and hold school districts accountable for accelerating success, reversing the loss of learning and the reduction of disparities”.

That could soon change. Additionally, on Monday, the New York State Department of Education announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved its plan to resume a federally mandated accountability system for the school year. underway based on last year’s results.

According to the NYSED statement, the plan will take into consideration how the pandemic has affected educational attainment.

“The USDE-approved plan lays the foundation for systemic changes to our state’s accountability plan to make it more responsive to our parents and communities while meeting the needs of all students in New York State.” , Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr., said in a statement. “Our accountability system builds on our work to improve academic achievement, provide equitable support systems and improve customer service.”

The plan is available for review online and public comments will be accepted until December 19.

(Steve Bittenbender writes for Center Square)

Amanda J. Marsh