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Fair Student Funding – When does the excessing start?

August 10, 2007 pm31 8:58 pm

Check your school’s allocation by clicking here.

Fair Student Funding is a new funding formula for allocating money from the NYC Department of Education to the public schools in NYC. It allocates money per student, based on grade level, poverty, ELLs, special education, and several other categories. FSF does not increase the overall funding to the system. It shuffles existing money. FSF claims to address two major inequities:

  1. some schools were over-funded or under-funded for reasons that were not well-deserved, or to address conditions that no longer exist. I believe this is true, and was genuinely a source of inequity in the system
  2. schools previously were allocated a certain number of teachers, and were compensated for those teachers. A school with one hundred brand new teachers might get $5 million, while a school with 100 experienced teachers might get $7 million, a large difference in money.

But schools were not given 5 or 7 mil and told to go hire 100 teachers.

Wacky is a funny word… But not when the results mean 40% defunding of some schools. … Excessing in … June 2009, or 22 months away.

(please please please keep reading below the fold –>)

They needed 100 teachers, kept the ones they had, replaced them as needed, and one got experienced teachers and the others did not. The lack of cash was never an impediment to hiring experienced teachers. Lousy working conditions, lousy leadership, lousy physical plant… But how can a DoE financial officer with no education experience fix those things? That’s not fair (fair?) of me to ask. I shouldn’t ascribe to ignorance and incompetence what is more likely due to scheming and malice.

Anyhow, here’s more or less what happened. They decided that they were going to do this. They tried to create formulae to create a result that would shuffle the money the way they wanted. This certainly is the spreadsheet/business suit/’isn’t there tuition?’ crowd. And they made something that actually shuffles the money. Some schools will get more, some less. But let us not look at the ‘less’ today. And they helped us not look at the less; they promised that any school facing a reduction, they would make up the difference for the first two years. Everyone happy?

This works like a poorly constructed fantasy baseball metric. It kind of does what they meant it to, but with some wacky results. Wacky is a funny word, right? But not when the results mean 40% defunding of some schools. There is, for many of us, a doomsday approaching. Excessing notices are in June, so June 2009, or 22 months away. There will also be some jobs created with the shifting money, but there will be high school licenses in deep you know what.

There are winners and losers among the schools. But at the high school level, winners will add on far fewer new positions than the losers will need to shed, and in some license areas it will be much worse.

Untenured principals, meaning all of them, aren’t in much of a position to do anything, to say anything. The UFT can, and should. Parents can, and should. Teachers in schools under the gun can and should. But principals gave up tenure. Plus, they aren’t getting hit this year or next. Timothy Egan in his Dustbowl book and Jared Diamond in Collapse both write about the tendency to overplant during the green years, resulting in even worse disaster when the next drought hits. Or Aesop wrote about the Ant and the Grasshopper. Whatever the reason, principals’ voices aren’t there, and ours should be.

Over the next few weeks I will review the hits that some schools are due to take. You can look for yourself by following this link. Compare the number in Section I (Fair Student Funding) and Section II (Old Approach). If there would have been a cut, Section II also lists the amount “held fully harmless,” in other words, the doomsday number that won’t come into play for another 22 months.

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