07.16.15

AFTER MAJOR PUSH, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES AT-RISK FEDERAL EDUCATION DOLLARS FOR UPSTATE NEW YORK SCHOOLS ARE PROTECTED; SENATE AMENDMENT COULD HAVE CUT MORE THAN $100M IN FUNDS FOR UPSTATE NY, UNTIL SENATOR SUCCESSFULLY BEAT BACK PROPOSAL

Senate Amendment Planned to Drastically Change Existing Federal Funding Formula For Title I in Many Eastern States & Send Money South & West, Effectively Slashing Over $100M in Critical Funding For Upstate NY Families & Teachers  

Schumer Publicly Condemned Amendment & Fought Hard to Prevent Measure From Threatening Upstate NY Funding; Schumer Successfully Beat Back Efforts to Slash Millions in Funding 

Schumer: Funding Cuts from Upstate NY Schools Has Been Expelled 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, after his public push, over $100 million in at-risk federal education dollars for Upstate New York schools has been protected. Earlier this week, Schumer launched a major push to block any Senate amendment that significantly cuts Title I funding in the Every Child Achieves Act. Schumer explained that the original Senate amendment would have radically changed the current formula used to allocate Title I education funds to K-12 schools. These funds are the largest source of federal funding for elementary and secondary education and are key to every state’s ability to improve educational opportunities, particularly for children in New York State.

“As a proud product of the New York public school system, I know how great our state’s schools can be when given the tools, resources and funding to succeed, and that’s why I fought so hard to prevent this proposal from slashing millions in funding from New York’s public schools,” said Senator Schumer. “Our teachers and students work too hard to have the rug pulled out from under them over summer vacation and I am pleased that we were able to successfully beat back this proposal.”

Schumer successfully worked with Senators Burr, Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray to secure a compromise to the amendment. Schumer insisted that all funds be “held harmless” – meaning the new formula would not apply to any of the existing funds New York receives. In addition, Schumer secured a further improvement to require that the new formula not be applied until Title I funding reaches an annual level of $17 billion. Currently, Title I is funded at approximately $14.5 billion. Schumer explained that this compromise ensures that New York’s funds will not be cut next year and will only have an impact on funding above $17 billion, which means New York would actually see an increase in funding overall. Schumer said that it is good news that this money has been protected because without this funding, Upstate New York school districts, and districts across New York, would be financially overwhelmed and unable to provide critical services to students who most need them.

This week, the Senate considered the Every Child Achieves Act on the floor, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, the ESEA was considered at the time the most far-reaching federal overhaul of the national education system. Its purpose was to provide quality education to students of all income levels by providing grants and federal resources to schools across the nation, particularly to districts serving low-income students. Since its enactment, the ESEA has been reauthorized every several years, with substantial changes being made as federal education policy has changed. The most recent, notable change was made in 2001 when the law was reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In April 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan rewrite of the ESEA called the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. This legislation was meant to address many of the shortcomings of NCLB. This bill was passed in the Senate this week.

One of the amendments considered could have had a devastating effect on the New York public education system and could have left millions of students and teachers without the critical resources needed to succeed. Schumer led a public campaign against the particular amendment, sponsored by Senator Richard Burr [R-NC], as it would change the formula currently used to determine Title I funding allocations for state and local education agencies. Specifically, this amendment would have radically and immediately changed the formula that is used by the federal Department of Education to allocate Title I funding to K-12 schools. Schumer explained that, incorporated into the ESEA are several key provisions that cover a wide spectrum of federal education policy, including a critical provision called Title I. The Title I program allows the federal Department of Education to distribute federal funds to school districts and local education agencies (LEA) that serve a high number or percentage of low-income students.

Schumer said these Title I funds are the largest source of federal funding for elementary and secondary education, and are key to every state’s ability to improve educational opportunities. These funds are particularly important for children across New York State, where approximately 687 school districts receive more than $1 billion. Across Upstate NY alone, there are 560 school districts that receive more than $346 million in Title I funding. Without these funds, Schumer said New York school districts would be financially overwhelmed and unable to provide critical services to students who most need them. Schumer said if this program funding were cut under this amendment, it would have forced school districts across New York State that have long-received Title I funds to lay off teachers, cut supplemental educational programs, or make other dramatic cuts to their services provided to students.

Therefore, Schumer urged his colleagues in Congress to reject any amendment to Title I that causes schools, across both New York and the nation, to lose substantial funds so abruptly. Schumer outlined just how disastrous these Title I cuts would be for Upstate New York school districts, including the 560 that receive over $117 million to serve children in NY’s neediest public schools:

  • In the Capital Region, education funding for 81 school districts would have been cut by approximately $12,912,000, or 34.55%.
  • In Central New York, education funding for 69 school districts would have been cut by approximately $14,617,000, or 31.22%.
  • In Western New York, education funding for 68 school districts would have been cut by approximately $21,373,000, or 32.02%.
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, education funding for 69 school districts would have been cut by approximately $18,828,000, or 35.57%.
  • In the Southern Tier, education funding for 88 school districts would have been cut by approximately $10,177,000, or 32.58%.
  • In the Hudson Valley, education funding for 103 school districts would have been cut by approximately $31,961,000, or 36.5%.
  • In the North Country, education funding for 82 school districts would have been cut by approximately $7,668,000, or 32.67%.

Schumer has publicly opposed any amendment that cuts federal Title I education funding, but this amendment is particularly damaging. Title I education funds are in part based on a state’s average per pupil expenditure. States that invest significant resources in their education system are rewarded and incentivized to do so through the federal formula. In addition, another part of the Title I formula is an effort factor that looks at how much a state spends relative to per capita income (PCI).  States that spend a high percentage on education relative to PCI are rewarded by taking effort into account.  The proposed amendment would both remove the state average per pupil expenditure and the effort factor in the Title I formula. This means that this change hurts states that both spend a lot on education and states that have high effort relative to PCI. 

This amendment would have eliminated much of the formula funding structure, specifically the PCI provisions and the ‘effort’ factor that still rewards poorer states for showing a willingness to invest in education. It would instead reward states that do not invest as much in education, in essence taking money from low-income students in one state and give it to low-income students in another state. Schumer said this methodology is flawed and not the right way to change federal policy.

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