The Law of Averages

04/29/2016 03:05 pm ET Updated Apr 30, 2017

The Mayor just released his budget proposal for the next fiscal year and changes to Fair Student Funding (FSF) are part of the plan. Woohoo! That's great news to the thousands of concerned and frustrated parents, students, alumni, and teachers across the city who have been fighting the fight to make Fair Student Funding actually fair. Or more fair than is presently is.

According to a budget info press release:

Fair Student Funding:
$161 million in FY17 - growing to $310 million in FY18, with support from the State - to raise the Fair Student Funding level for all schools to an average of 91 percent (with no school less than 87 percent) in FY17, and 92.5 percent (with no school less than 90 percent) in FY18.

On second thought, that initial Woohoo! needs to be scaled back, and perhaps not just a little bit.

First of all: with support from the State. FSF is a city based initiative. Is the mayor reassigning education funds already in place to help out or is the State kicking in a little extra? Reasonable question that deserves a better explanation.

Secondly: average percentages. What will those be based on? Will the number of students enrolled in a school be taken into account when figuring percentages out? Will schools now receiving over 100% be weighted differently? Will there be considerations taken for elementary, middle, and high schools? FSF has specific funding amounts for each of the above, but will that one blanket percentage apply to everyone? That goes for special Ed, performance, techincal, and ELL programs as well. This needs some clarity as well.

Schools currently at 87% could very likely be getting no additional funding in FY17. That means yet another year limping along with costs rising and no change in the immediate future. So in spite of the possibility of change, not everyone will benefit.

Where's the fairness in that?

Someone needs to take a deeper look into why there was such disparity in the first place. Adding funds in this nebulous way is an unclear, non specific bandage. It won't solve the intrinsic inequity in funding that's been going on for years, nor will is assure that it won't happen again. Again, I urge the Comptroller, the Mayor, the Chancellor, City and State officials (now that they're being mentioned in the budget), to re-examine Fair Student Funding practices and make sure, going forward, students and their schools are treated more fairly.