New York Leap-Frogs ESSA With Its Own Financial Transparency Rule

By Daarel Burnette II — April 03, 2018 1 min read
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New York lawmakers last week passed a controversial requirement for the state to scrutinize districts’ school-by-school spending amounts, according to local reports.

The requirement was tucked into Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, which has since passed the state legislature, and is seen by proponents as a way to make sure state funds are being used as intended: on the state’s poorest and neediest students. Cuomo is expected to sign the budget in the coming days.

Under the law, several districts next year, including New York City’s, will have to have their school spending distribution methods reviewed by either by the state’s education department or budget division (Voters and local board members currently approve districts’ budgets in New York state.). If the state determines that the budgets aren’t complete, there is a chance the district could lose any increase in state aid.

“By shining a light on school-level funding inequities before the school year begins, the final budget can serve as an important new protection for students of color, low-income students, and other historically under-served groups of students across the state,” said to Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust-New York. “This law requires transparency in budgeting, which will be a powerful tool for parents and policymakers seeking equity.”

New York’s requirement goes further than the one that all states must comply with under the Every Student Succeeds Act by spring 2020.

Under ESSA, states only have to report school-by-school spending amounts. But even that task has given state officials a headache as they work to seperate overhead costs from school building costs.

Across the country, state leaders have become increasingly skeptical that districts are spending the money they receive from the state appropriately.

Education funding in New York has been a years-long war between local and state leaders. District leaders have said in recent weeks that school spending amounts are best decided at a local level and are not indicative of the quality of education students are receiving.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.