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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Mayor and Chancellor Appear before Special Master Panel

The New York City public school system requires $5.3 billion more for operating aid expenses and $13.1 billion for capital construction to provide all of its children an opportunity for a sound basic education, testified Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein during Thursday's hearing of the special masters. Both the mayor and the chancellor expressed strong support for the compliance plan put forth by CFE.

Echoing the city's Sound Basic Education Plan that was submitted to the referees last month, the mayor and the chancellor called on the state to fund their entire proposed $5.3 billion increase for education and suggested that the influx of funds be ramped up over a four-year period. The additional money for facilities funding should be split evenly between the city and the state, both men testified, with about $6.5 borne by the state and $6.5 borne by the city, and should be phased-in over five years.

Testifying on behalf of the city, Mayor Bloomberg called improving the public school system his "number one priority" and decried the state's failure to meet the CFE mandate. Among his plethora of claims against the state's current funding system, Chancellor Klein highlighted the dysfunction in the building aid formula, testifying that "it systematically discriminates against New York City." This critique of the state's building aid system followed on the heels of testimony given by plaintiffs' expert witness, Patricia Zedalis, former chief executive of the Division of the School Facilities at the New York City Board of Education, who was the primary consultant on CFE's Sound Basic Education Task Force on facilities. Zedalis testified that plaintiffs' call for an immediate construction fund for New York City of $8.9 was a necessary starting point to offset years of neglect on the part of the state, and reminded the panel that the defendants did not even put forth an analysis that attempts to bring New York City's facilities funding under compliance with CFE v. State. She distinguished plaintiffs' $8.9 billion capital proposal from the city's, stating that the $8.9 billion covered only new construction to give overcrowding and other constitutional violations found by the Court of Appeals, while the city's total also includes basic building reforms and other non-constitutional items.

Both the mayor and the chancellor were also pressed by the referees to offer their opinions of the defendants' proposal to create a new Independent State Office of Accountability. Mayor Bloomberg called the governor's argument for such an office "specious" and added that there already exists significant oversight in the current system and that adding an additional layer of accountability would detract from the city's current progress in realizing reform. Chancellor Klein called the governor's urging for an independent office unnecessarily "duplicative" and a potentially "very negative development" "Multiple levels of review and analysis would lead to politics of paralysis," he said.

The next hearing will take place on Friday, October 14, at 9:00 a.m. at Fordham Law School details>>.

October 14, 2004

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 >