What is an underfunded, high-need school?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
In accordance with 2019 law, the State Education Department recently contacted school districts with underfunded, high-need schools about their required report on how they will provide appropriate funding to them in school year 2019-20.
How did the state determine whether a district has an underfunded, high-need school and what does that mean?
Underfunded High-Needs School Report
The new Education Law 3614 requires the state to identify underfunded high-need schools. This within-district comparison compares schools serving similar grade ranges and identifies schools that have student need greater than five percent over the average and also budget allocations less than five percent below the average spending of similar schools in the district. Reports on appropriate funding for high-need underfunded schools are due from school districts by September 1, 2019.
Student need is assessed using Foundation Aid weightings based on student counts reported in the State’s transparency form for the prior year: disability (1.41), free and reduced-price lunch eligibility (.65) and English language learner status (0.5). So, for example, in District 999, if Elementary School A has a weighted student count that is more than five percent greater than the average for all elementary schools in District 999, Elementary School A is high-need.
Whether the school is underfunded or not involves a comparison of budgeted amounts (Total allocations) submitted in last year's transparency form. If Elementary School A is identified as underfunded it has a total allocation per weighted pupil less than five percent below the average total allocation per weighted pupil for similar schools (e.g., elementary schools) in District 999.
The requirement to report how the district is funding the school appropriately occurs when a school is both underfunded and high-need, using data from the year before.
The point to remember is that whether a school is high-need or underfunded is not a statewide comparison but a within-district comparison. It's about whether each district is recognizing the distribution of student need within the district in its budget process. While most districts probably consider student need in their budgeting process, few districts if any use these exact data and methods to determine whether a school is high-need and underfunded. That said, the law may help school districts think about how they are maximizing the distribution of resources to benefit learning by all students.
Here is the NYSED letter to districts:
On April 12, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2019, which included amendments to Education Law §3614 that established a new “underfunded high need schools” report. In accordance with the new law, the Director of the Division of the Budget has prepared a list of underfunded high-needs schools, consistent with the statutory formula and using data from the New York State School Funding Transparency report for the 2018-2019 school year. One or more of the schools in your district have been identified as an underfunded high-need school. Your district is required to submit a report to the State, by September 1, 2019, “specifying how [the] district effectuated appropriate funding for the underfunded high-need schools” [Ed Law §3614(3)(a)]
You will find the schools identified here: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/faru/StateSchoolFundingTransparency.htm. This link also provides an overview of the questions that must be answered for each of the identified schools.
Report submissions will be completed through the SED Monitoring and Vendor Performance System accessible through the NYSED Application Business Portal (https://portal.nysed.gov/abp). Please sign into your SED Monitoring account, where you will find a link to the survey. A separate survey report must be completed for each identified school in your district.
Please submit your report by September 1st. Further reminders will come from this email address later in the summer, if you have not yet submitted your report. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reply to SSFTF@nysed.gov.