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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Harold Levy

Harold Levy, as member of the State Board of Regents, testified that each year, New York City receives a fixed share of any annual increase in state education funding. This fixed share is given without regard to need, wealth, enrollment or attendance rates.

This testimony substantiated CFE’s long-standing charge that the so-called state aid “formula” is really a political deal, orchestrated by the Governor and the legislative leaders. Mr. Levy reviewed over 10 years of school funding allocations, highlighting the fact that New York City received almost precisely 38% of the state increase every year.

Mr. Levy’s testimony also contradicted the findings of the Moreland Act Commission, which suggested that New York City schools improperly receive millions of dollars due to inflated enrollment and attendance statistics. He testified that since the state legislature manipulates the funding formulas to receive a politically-driven distributional requirement, “attendance figures are essentially irrelevant.”

In addition, Mr. Levy addressed the recent State Aid Proposal made by the Board of Regents, which recommended a $1.3 billion increase in state aid for the 2000-2001 school year in an effort to implement the new learning standards. Most of the proposed increase was earmarked for New York City and other high-needs districts. He noted the correlation between money and student performance and the need to increase state funding to high-needs districts across the state. Thus far, the State has failed to allocate increased funding to high-need districts.

Testimony given on December 21 & 22, 1999

Harold Levy, recently named Interim Chancellor of the New York City public schools, resumed his testimony from December (At the time, Mr. Levy was a member of the State Board of Regents). State defendants sought to ask Mr. Levy a broad range of questions based on his current position as Chancellor, and plaintiffs objected to questions that went beyond the scope of the direct examination. Judge DeGrasse ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor on this issue.

Mr. Levy parried questions about the Regents’ state aid position, the 1995 report of the “Levy Commission” on school facilities in NYC, and the fact that almost each year for the past 10 years NYC received almost precisely 38.86% of any increase in state education aid. Mr. Levy also discussed a letter he wrote on December 1, 1999 crisply summarizing the significance of the fixed share:

The strength of the 38.86% figure is that it makes clear to the most casual observer that this consistency is intentional, planned and the subject of common consent. It rips away the suggestion that the pattern is a function of happenstance.

During the morning recess, Chancellor Levy joined CFE attorneys in talking with students from Frederick Douglas High School in Brooklyn who were attending the trial as part of CFE’s Curriculum Project.

Testimony given on February 3, 2000

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >