The Daily Gazette
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Schenectady School district drafts civil rights action

When state education aid is doled out each year, it's better to have white students than black and Hispanic students, alleges a complaint by the Schenectady City School District.

In the next few weeks, Schenectady City School District Superintendent Larry Spring plans on filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, arguing that the state's funding for education is discriminatory because districts with a majority of minority students receive a smaller portion of the aid they're due than districts with a majority of white students. The complaint is based on the difference between mandated state funding levels and what is actually received by districts, with Schenectady receiving about 54 percent of what it was due this year, leaving a $60 million shortfall.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Legislature, state Education Department and state Board of Regents are all named in the complaint, which asks the federal government to investigate the state's education funding formula and to help secure an increase in state aid for impacted districts.

A copy of the complaint is available below.

The governor's office and state Education Department wouldn't comment on the pending complaint, but the Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn highlighted the efforts by the state board of regents in support of equitable funding of the foundation formula. In an attempt to help needy school districts, Cuomo pushed for and got an additional $1 billion for education aid in this year's budget.

Looking at how much aid each district has received and the district's demographic data, Spring concluded, “The higher percentage of white students in the district, the more likely the district was getting a higher percentage of that foundation formula.”

"Few districts with a majority minority population are getting anywhere close to the median level of aid," he added.

In the case of Schenectady, this has meant increasing the burden on local property taxpayers and funding the district with less than is needed to appropriately education its students.

A full story will be in the Saturday issue of the Daily Gazette.

Follow @poozer87 on Twitter.

Schenectady Education Complaint.pdf by DailyGazette

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