INWOOD — Uptown parents, education activists and nonprofit organizations are rallying in front of State Senator Marisol Alcantara's district office in Inwood Friday — saying she and her colleagues aren't living up to their earlier promises to fully fund local public schools.
The rally, organized by the Rise and Resist and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) in recent weeks, is part of a statewide push to fulfill the 2007 Campaign for Fiscal Equity court ruling that mandates education funds be distributed to New York’s school districts to ensure all schools can provide students with a “sound basic education.”
District 6, which is the school district Alcantara represents, is owed approximately $51 million, AQE organizers said. The funding formula — called Foundation Aid — is based on multiple factors including poverty levels, the number of students with disabilities and the number of English-language learners.
Critics say Alcantara — who has taken heat recently for joining the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of Democratic senators who sometimes vote with Republicans — has put forward a spending plan that looks more like the Republican plan than the one she promised while campaigning.
Parents say the Republican proposal would change the Foundation Aid formula so that it no longer prioritizes high-need districts.
The IDC's budget proposal, introduced in January, "included a $1.47 billion investment in the Foundation Aid formula for the first year with a multi-year commitment to achieve complete funding,” Alcantara told parents earlier this week, adding that as an IDC member, she has “a voice at the budget table” and is “confident that the end of this year's budget process New York state will have invested a record amount of funding in education."
“The only way we can ensure that our students receive the money they are due is by getting this vital item in the Governor’s final budget due April 1st," Alcantara said.
The AQE said in a statement that the IDC's budget proposal is "highly misleading" to the community, especially after the IDC, and several Republican Senators, “publicly committed to supporting a full phase-in of the Foundation Aid owed.”
“They assured us that they would get the Foundation Aid funding for our district,” said parent Kari Steeves, referring to a meeting she had with Alcantara late last year. "This was their top education priority that they talked to us about."