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Education Group Pushes for Change in School Funding

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Alliance for Quality Education is making state-wide stops to explain how a court decision on fiscal equity could benefit all public schools. A strategy session was held in Buffalo Wednesday.

The Alliance says it will mount a state-wide effort to make sure all school districts are part of a possible funding formula change. The Court of Appeals decision says an eighth grade education is not enough, and all public school students are entitled to a high school education.

"The obligation is to provide a meaningful high school education," Regina Eaton, executive director of the Alliance, said. "For people to be able to participate in society and to have some basic building blocks, you have to go much beyond eighth grade."

Eaton says even though the lawsuit involved New York City schools, the court has invited the state Legislature to examine all districts and funding formulas, including Buffalo's.

"We think Buffalo is similar to New York City with the same issues regarding to students and funding," Eaton said. "If that's true, then when New York City benefits we think Buffalo should benefit as well. We think some additional funds and resources will come to the city."

The Alliance is calling on local education leaders and activists to help make sure Buffalo is part of those conversations. James Kane, executive assistant to Buffalo's schools superintendent, attended Wednesday's meeting. But he says the district is facing more uncertainty as the fiscal stability authority begins its review of school finances.

"When their (authority) staff is formed and we learn their everyday processes and what they are looking for, that's going to be important," Kane said. "We are really looking forward to that staff being put together in the next month or so."

Kane says the city school district was scheduled to meet with control board leaders Thursday.

The Alliance will hold a statewide summit on fiscal equity in Albany this November to generate massive public support for implementation of the court decision.