New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s move to base school funding on student needs has made some progress in providing more equitable support,, but a complicated transition and overall budget cuts mean more than nine out of 10 schools still don’t receive appropriate support based on the needs of their students.
The analysis, released last week by the New York City Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded agency not controlled by the mayor, evaluates the first five years of the Fair Student Funding initiative.
Under its weighted formula, the city provides additional support to schools for students based on 26 different need categories in five areas, including grade level and special education and English-language status.
The new funding formula did lead to more targeted funding based on student need, the study found, but the change was undermined by cuts in overall funding for the initiative, which by 2011-12 had fallen 6.3 percent from the 2007-08 allocations of $5.4 billion.
Because the cuts were not applied on the basis of the weighted student needs, nearly all schools received less support than they were entitled to under the formula.
The lower allocations disproportionately hurt some groups of students—such as middle school students performing below academic standards and English-learners in elementary and high school—who received less than their weighted allocations.
A version of this article appeared in the April 17, 2013 edition of Education Week as School Funding