Press Release

New state and federal funding sources present opportunity to support students with the greatest needs and to invest in educational equity 

NEW YORK – New York’s largest school districts are frequently failing to provide their highest-need schools with significantly greater levels of resources so that all students receive the support they need, according to an online tool relaunched today by The Education Trust–New York. 

Using publicly available data from a state law that requires all 673 New York school districts receiving foundation aid to report their 2020-21 school-level budgets, the data tool – available at nyschoolfunding.org – allows users to see how schools and districts allocate resources, and whether students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities, and multilingual learners are receiving the resources they need to succeed. 

The tool allows users to: 

  • See how much funding individual schools receive and how they spend the monies; 
  • Explore whether large districts (with at least 10 elementary/middle or high schools) are providing the most resources to the schools with the greatest student needs; 
  • Compare funding between schools with different or similar student demographics; and 
  • Explore how school funding and student performance are related. 

Schools with significant need require greater funding than other schools. This is especially true in the current climate, as the ongoing pandemic and systemic racism continue to exacerbate pre-existing inequities and take a disproportionate toll on students who were previously underserved by the school system. 

The tool also comes as school districts across New York anticipate receiving an additional $8.9 billion in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, money that is intended to supplement school budgets and support programs and services to help transition students back into schools in the upcoming monthsNew funding, along with a historic commitment to fully fund foundation aid from the state, presents an important opportunity to ensure that the bulk of new resources reach the students who need it most. 

Ed Trust–NY also released an advocacy tip sheet to help parents engage with local school leaders as districts develop plans for spending the new state and federal funding. 

 School funding investments play an important role in student outcomes – helping to determine whether students have access to strong educators, enroll in higher-level and advanced courses and world languages, are taught using modern textbooks and technology, and have the support of school counselors, librarians, art and music teachers. As schools move to more in-person instruction, these resources can also be used to ensure that students have access to safe facilities and supports such as high-quality afterschool programming that will offer them additional support to make up for the past year’s interrupted instruction. 

But Ed Trust–NY’s analysis of how large urban districts are distributing state and local funding between schools that serve the smallest share of low-income students compared to the schools serving the highest share of low-income students in each district found that: 

  • For every $100 per student invested by the Albany City School District in its lowest-need elementary/middle schools (where the share of low-income students is 45%), they are budgeting an average of $14 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 85%). 
  • For every $100 per student invested by Buffalo Public Schools in its lowest-need elementary/middle schools (where the share of low-income students is 66%), they are budgeting an average of $2 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 94%). At the high school level, for every $100 per student invested by Buffalo Public Schools in its lowest-need high schools (where the share of low-income students is 55%), they are budgeting an average of $29 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 91%). 
  • For every $100 per student invested by the New York City Department of Education in its lowest-need elementary/middle schools (where the share of low-income students is 43%), they are budgeting an average of $19 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 95%). At the high school level, for every $100 per student invested by New York City Department of Education in its lowest-need high schools (where the share of low-income students is 60%), they are budgeting an average of $27 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 92%). 
  • For every $100 per student invested by the Syracuse City School District in its lowest-need elementary/middle schools (where the share of low-income students is 65%), they are budgeting an average of $8 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 93%). 
  • For every $100 per student invested by Yonkers Public Schools in its lowest-need elementary/middle schools (where the share of low-income students is 49%), they are budgeting an average of just $3 per student more in their highest-need schools (where the share of low-income students is 93%).

There are not enough high schools in Albany, Syracuse, or Yonkers to conduct a high school analysis. School budget information for the Rochester City School District has not yet been approved and made available by the state. 

“Even prior to the pandemic, large urban school districts across New York State were failing to make a significantly greater investment in the schools serving students with the greatest needs,” said Dia Bryant, interim executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “Equal is not the same as equitable, and this new infusion of state and federal resources should contribute to narrowing the divide between schools who have and those who have not. School districts should prioritize investments in the schools and students who need the greatest support both academically and social emotionally. This is especially critical as schools seek to reopen equitably after over a year with inconsistent services because of the pandemic.”  

The tool currently includes data from nearly 600 school districts, and will be updated as additional submissions are processed and new data are approved. 

Learn more and explore the data at nyschoolfunding.org.