Small cities lose court fight over school aid

ALBANY -- A judge ruled Monday that New York has met its "constitutional obligation" to provide enough aid to eight small city schools, a key victory for the state in its fight with education groups over school funding.

The “Small Cities” lawsuit argued the state wasn't fulfilling its pledge to provide a "sound, basic education" to some New York schools after a landmark Court of Appeals ruling in 2007 ordered the state to provide more aid to New York City schools.

But in her ruling Monday, acting Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O'Connor said the state hasn't erred in its responsibilities.

The lawsuit includes Jamestown, Niagara Falls, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.

"The court concludes that the plaintiffs have failed to establish their claim that the state has not met its constitutional obligation to provide the students in the eight small city school distrits with the opportunity tfor a sound basic education," O'Connor wrote in her ruling in Albany.

The lawsuit has been in the courts for years, and the schools were hopeful that if they won the case, it would compel the state to add more money to schools outside New York City.

The state argued that it provides more than $24 billion a year to its nearly 700 school districts, and it not required under the 2007 Campaign for Fiscal Equity case to provide any specific amount of aid to schools.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office declined comment on the decision.

School groups said they were disappointed by the ruling.

“Today’s decision is a blow to some of New York’s most vulnerable students — students in eight small city school districts who unquestionably deserve greater state funding and the resources associated with the opportunity to receive the sound, basic education guaranteed by our state constitution," the New York State United Teachers union said in a statement.

 


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