Schenectady schools Superintendent Laurence Spring has an ally in his fight for state aid: the state Board of Regents.
The board’s state aid subcommittee voted Monday to urge the state Legislature to add $1.3 billion in education aid next year — and send it to high-needs school districts.
The board proposed that the money also be used for universal pre-K and professional development.
“The Board of Regents State Aid Proposal is an important step toward funding equity to make sure schools have the resources they need, and their teachers have the training and professional development they need to make sure every student graduates college-and-career ready,” Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a news release.
“The board will vigorously advocate for these necessary funds.”
The Regents have called for funding equity for years.
Spring was happy to have the board’s support, but he said he wouldn’t resolve the problem by simply giving money to the schools with the highest need.
He called that “an overly broad brush.”
“I don’t think it’s as simple as high-need or low-need,” he said. “Let’s do it by who’s farthest away from getting what the state says they should get.”
He noted that more than $1 billion was added in state aid last year — but it was spread throughout the state’s districts.
For just $135 million, the state could have taken every district getting less than 60 percent of its specified aid and brought them up to the average, 80 percent.
“Let’s put some mechanisms in place for the districts who have been most significantly harmed for a number of years,” Spring said.
He cited children who started kindergarten when the state agreed to provide the money needed to give every child a “sound, basic education.”
The agreement was in response to court orders after the state lost a 13-year battle on funding equity. But although the state set a formula to determine how much money each district needed, it has not fully funded that formula.
Thus, the child who started kindergarten with the promise of a sound basic education in Schenectady has now entered fifth grade without proper funding, Spring said.
“How long is it going to take of increased funding to make up for the deficits for that child?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s possible. There’s some developmental windows that have closed.”