Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Minority report from two members of the Fair Student Funding Working Group

Michael Athy, one of the members of the DOE's Fair Student Funding Working Group and a former Queens high school principal, sent me a copy of a "Minority Report" signed by him and Ted Leather, a member of the Citywide Council on High Schools and another member of the Working Group.  The Minority Report in full is below.

Several  different times on this blog and elsewhere I have pointed out the problems with the Formula myself, and last year posted the "Minority report" of the previous FSF Task Force,  established by law by the City Council, which focused, among other things, on way in which the formula incentivizes large classes.  

Sadly, there seems to be no mention of class size in this Minority Report, which is even more unfortunate given the new state law that will require smaller class size caps to be phased in over the next five years. However the report contains various observations important to note, particularly as regards certain high schools that receive more than they're entitled to, including certain CTE schools and the specialized high schools.  The report also critiques the manner in which the DOE severely restricted the issues that could be explored by the Working Group.  Finally, the Report proposes to provide extra per-student funding for every student that puts the school over 100% capacity, both to ensure sufficient services to that student and as "an incentive to OSE [Office of Student Enrollment] to rationalize their placements of students with the goal of universal 100% utilization."

Michael Athy's email to me also explained something of the context:

The report from the Chancellor’s Budget Working Group (renamed the “Fair Student Funding-FSF-Working Group”) will be presented to the Chancellor, the PEP, and publicly released this week. The report’s recommendations have been limited to FSF:


Adding FSF weights for SITH [students in temporary housing], students living in poverty, and schools with concentrations of high needs students; increasing foundation funding and eliminating portfolio funding for specialized academic high schools.There is an additional recommendation that a similar working group continue.


Throughout this process, the Group’s efforts to consider school budgeting as a whole, as originally requested by the Chancellor in May, and to examine numerous needed adjustments, have been stymied and circumscribed by the DOE personnel assigned to “assist” the Group’s efforts. The DOE’s scheduling, heavy-handed editing, and impossible deadline have combined to produce a predictable outcome with a veneer of community input.

Several members of the Working Group are profoundly disappointed by this report and its recommendations. As we were advised that no dissenting opinions will be included in the report itself, we are issuing a minority report, an executive summary and copy of which is attached. It has been submitted to the Chancellor. Pages 22-26 may be of particular interest to you.

It is our belief that authentic discussion, examination, and advocacy in support of the recommendations included in this Minority Report will rationalize how schools are funded in the coming years.


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