Alleging that the State of New York has not operated a constitutionally compliant state education finance system for the past seven years, Plaintiffs in NYSER v. State of New York will ask the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest Court, next Tuesday, May 30, 2017, to affirm that the State has a constitutional responsibility to ensure at all times the full funding of the “actual costs” of providing all students throughout the State with the opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.
Plaintiffs’ claims are based on the Court of Appeals’ three prior rulings in Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) v. State of New York in which the Court held that the state has an obligation to “ensure the availability of a ‘sound basic education’ to all its children.” The State is now taking the position that CFE was “a narrow, one time- only, remedial obligation to calculate the costs of achieving constitutional compliance in in a single school district “ (i.e. New York City) in 2006 and has no current precedential impact regarding New York City or the rest of the state. In 2007, responding to the CFE decisions, the State adopted a needs-based state-wide foundation aid formula, but since the 2008 recession, it has failed to fully fund that formula, nor has it created any alternative constitutionally-valid funding system. Currently, state funding is approximately $4 billion below the amounts called for in the foundation aid formula. Michael A. Rebell, co-counsel for plaintiffs, will be presenting the arguments for the plaintiffs. Co-counsel for plaintiffs on the brief is the firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Douglas T. Schwarz, John A. Vasallo, Peter Shadzik and Michael E. Tracht , of counsel. Andrew W. Amend, Senior Assistant Solicitor General will be arguing the case for the state defendants.
The plaintiffs in NYSER v. State of New York are 25 parents from New York City and from urban, suburban and rural districts throughout the state, and NYSER, an organization whose members include the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the New York State PTA, the New York State Association of School Business Officials, the Statewide School Finance Consortium, the Rural Schools Association, 11 of New York City’s Community Education Councils, and a number of parent groups and advocacy groups around the state. For more information on the suit, see www.nyser.org.