City, State Officials Debate Over School Aid After Injunction
Updated: Updated 02/22/2013 10:11 PM
By: Zack Fink
Now that a judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from withholding New York City school aid, city and state officials are working to make sure New York City school kids do not miss out. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
New York City missed a January deadline for a new teacher evaluation system, and it lost a 4 percent increase in state aid, worth roughly $250 million.
But it does not end there. The United Federation of Teachers and the Bloomberg administration still haven't reached a deal, and that means they could be headed for an equivalent state aid loss in the next school year.
"The money is important, but if you had to do with less money, you cannot compromise on having a real evaluation system," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show Friday.
Mayor Bloomberg said that the losses already realized will mean larger classroom sizes and the loss of after-school programs.
Democrats said the governor should not tie aid to an evaluation deal, especially when the city stands to lose out on additional federal money.
"Linking the two things together, the rating system and the funding, is a mistake," said Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.
Brennan has started a petition calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo not to tie school funding to evaluations.
"We shouldn't have state aid linked to a collective bargaining process that is uncertain and may produce no result," Brennan said.
Mayor Bloomberg said that for now, the city must absorb the hit.
"The state technically has the right to do anything," the mayor said.
But some education advocates disagree. They said the courts have sided with the students before, not only with Thursday's preliminary injunction, but with the campaign for fiscal equity ruling in 2006.
In that case, the court found, after 13 years of litigation, that the state must do more to meet the constitutional requirement of providing an adequate education for public school students.
"We may be in court not just for the 250, but because the minimum requirements that are necessary, in our opinion, are not being realized," said City Councilman Robert Jackson of Manhattan.
Now that the teacher evaluation system will be imposed by the state, Assembly Democrats are working on a compromise in this year's budget, which would give the Department of Education retroactive power to restore the funding that was lost.
The Cuomo administration would not go beyond their Thursday statement, which said that they will appeal the judge's ruling.
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