April 19, 2021 By Allie Griffin
More than 40 public schools in western Queens will receive a collective $33 million in funding from the recently-passed New York state budget, State Sen. Mike Gianaris announced Friday.
The schools will gradually receive their portion of the funds on a monthly basis beginning in September, Gianaris said.
The influx in funds is the result of a long-standing court decision in which the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the state was violating students’ constitutional rights by shortchanging them of the funding necessary to meet educational requirements.
A group of concerned parents, who launched The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), had filed a lawsuit against the state claiming that their children were not getting a sound, basic education — which prompted the court hearing.
The Court of Appeals ruled in their favor in 2006 and as result, schools statewide were supposed to have received a $5.5 billion increase in basic operating aid, also known as Foundation Aid, over a four-year period from 2007 to 2011.
However, the state legislature had never agreed to earmark the additional funds for schools in the state budget until now.
“That decision was made over a decade ago and we have been fighting ever since to get the required moneys in the budget so that our schools could be made whole,” Gianaris said during a virtual press conference. “It’s been a long time coming.”
With the Democrats firmly in control of the state legislature the funds were finally allocated, advocates said.
“That power shift in Albany is what made this victory possible,” Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said.
Beginning in September, public schools across New York City will receive a total of $11.9 billion — money which they are owed — over the next three years, Gianaris said.
In total, 41 public schools — a mix of elementary, middle and high schools — in western Queens will receive approximately $33 million split among them.
“It’s a lot of money that’s going to be pumped into these classrooms,” Gianaris said. “We’re very excited that this is finally happening after so many years.”
The money will go toward reducing class sizes, the hiring of more counselors as well as providing greater academic support for students, Gripper said.
“This is a huge victory for New York students,” she said. “We know that this is going to be a transformative, systemic change to education when we have this infusion of money coming into our schools.”
School leaders said the funding is especially needed now, as schools help children recover from the trauma of the pandemic and return to in-person classes.
“Working with students from District 30, I know this funding is sorely needed in our schools and at this unprecedented time now more than ever we need resources,” School District 30 Superintendent Dr. Philip Composto said in a statement.
“Senator Gianaris has always supported our schools and advocated for our fair share of Foundation Aid and I am pleased that New York’s students will be receiving the funds they are owed.”
Long Island City High School is expected to receive the most Foundation Aid — an estimated $2,617,077 — among the 41 schools, followed by William Cullen Bryant High School with $2,588,451 and Aviation Career & Technical Education High School with $2,262,555.
The three schools have the largest enrollment numbers of the western Queens schools.
A full list of the 41 schools in Western Queens that will receive the funding and the amount estimated for each school is below.