I was in "shock and awe" at our last school budget meeting. We are held harmless for over $200,000.00 and are expecting increased austerity for the next two years - all of this in a post-CFE world? It's hard to believe that we are not feeling any of the trickle-down from the CFE money. We need smaller class sizes for our freshman and advisories as a fifth (not sixth) class. Mr. Klein, we want to succeed and demand a chance to do so. ....Can you explain where our share of the CFE money is going, and when we will feel it at the school level?
Murry Bergtraum is a severely overcrowded high school that has been on the state failing list for several years. In fact, it is in its second year of "restructuring"-- with the possibility of closing in the near future if results don't improve. Class sizes range from 28 to 30.4 students-- far higher than the rest of the state, where high schools average twenty students per class.
Yet according to the "fair student funding" reform that DOE claimed would drive more dollars to our neediest schools, Bergtraum's budget would have been cut by $282,365 next year if the proposal had been fully enacted. Because of the negotiated agreement to "hold harmless" all schools, it will receive a big fat zero through this formula for the next two years instead.
Compare this to Stuyvesant high school, with the highest graduation rate and the top performing students in the city, due to receive an increase of $68,929 next year through its FSF allocation.
In fact, 47% of all the failing schools in NYC would have received cuts averaging $322,000 if the proposal had been implemented as originally designed -- and will get no extra funding through the formula for the next two years. The other 53% failing schools will get an average of only $81,676, enough to pay for one extra teacher at most.
For example, in District 4 in
What makes this particularly disturbing is that so far, the FSF allocation is the only way in which DOE has announced it will distribute any of the extra funds resulting from the settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit to schools, a case which was more than 13 years in the courts and was finally settled by the State Legislature this spring.
Councilmember Robert Jackson (see photo to the right) was the original plaintiff in this lawsuit -- in which the state's highest court concluded that class sizes were too large in NYC schools to provide our students with their constitutional right to an adequate education.
The so-called "fair student funding" allocation is also the only way in which so far Chancellor Klein has publicly revealed that he will attempt to comply with the new state law requiring class size reduction -- by simply aggregating the individual choices of principals who choose to use their FSF funds to hire extra teachers to reduce class size. The city is supposed to submit a five year class size reduction plan on July 1 -- with the first year focused on low-performing, overcrowded schools -- a description that fits Murry Bergtraum to a T.
From all the evidence so far, the administration's class size reduction plan -- as well as the FSF formula itself--is a fraud.
For more on how the city's FSF plan fails our failing schools, see this memo here.
For how it fails to be an actual class size reduction plan, see the Class Size Matters letter to the Regents and the State Education Department.