© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Thank you to everyone who made the Fund Drive a success! If you would still like to make a pledge and are experiencing issues, we apologize for the inconvenience.
Please check back later as we are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Every contribution counts, and we appreciate your support!

NY settles long-running court fight on school funding

Paul Tuthill / WAMC

New York Governor Kathy Hochul says the state has ended its opposition to a 2006 ruling from the state’s highest court that required that billions more dollars be allocated each year to schools to address inequities in the state’s education system. The settlement means New York will fully abide by the court order.

The New York Court of Appeals ordered that the state pay the additional money to the state’s poorest schools 15 years ago, but the decision was never fully carried out by lawmakers.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which won the original case, filed suit again in 2014, along with the state school boards association, the PTA, and individual parents from New York City and Schenectady, to try to get the governor and legislature to actually carry out the court order and allocate the funding.

The administration of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, had been fighting the lawsuit. Now, Governor Hochul, who became governor after Cuomo resigned in a sexual harassment scandal, says she’s reached an agreement to settle the case, known as New Yorkers for Students' Educational Rights v. New York State.

“That legal battle is over,” Hochul said. “We have officially settled the lawsuit.”

In this year’s state budget, the legislature provided for full funding for schools that was required by the 2006 court ruling. It will be phased in over the next three years. Hochul says by fiscal year 2024, New York will be spending at least $3.5 billion more on schools a year, for a total of $23.2 billion.

“We’ll make sure the money is there going forward,” Hochul said.

Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the pro-school funding group Alliance for Quality Education, called the settlement a “momentous shift in a fight that parents and community members have been waging for decades.”

It’s not the first time that a governor and state legislature have promised to fulfill the court order. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer in 2007 announced a phased-in plan to fully fund the schools. It was scrapped during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009.

If the governor and Democratic-led legislature fail to follow through with their three-year funding plan this time, the settlement allows the plaintiffs to recommence their lawsuit with an expedited trial schedule.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.