Court weighs dismissal motion for school funding lawsuit

ALBANY — Education activists told New York’s top court Tuesday that state leaders have never made good on a landmark school funding case.

A lawyer for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a group that has waged a legal battle for more school funding, said the state hasn’t lived up to a 2006 court mandate to increase funding for New York City schools by $1.9 billion.

Further, the state has engaged in a “never-ending cycle of non-accountability” by avoiding an equitable statewide funding formula, attorney Michael Rebell told the Court of Appeals.

At issue is a case that has reverberated through state courtrooms and state Capitol hallways for more than a decade. In the so-called CFE lawsuit, a group of parents, students, school officials and others had successfully sued the state for shortchanging New York City schools , violating students’ constitutional right to a “sound, basic” education. In a follow-up case, the Court of Appeals said in 2006 that funding for the city school district should be boosted by $1.9 billion — and, by extension, at least $2.45 billion statewide.

Though the state boosted educational spending in the next two school years following the case, it reduced funding after the 2008-2009 economic recession. Since then, the plaintiffs said the state essentially has tried to avoid its obligation, saying “the state has abandoned its constitutional reform efforts and has further cut and frozen state aid without responding to actual student needs.” The plaintiffs filed this…

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