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Ossining School District Votes To Address Educational Inequity

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OSSINING, N.Y. -- The Ossining Board of Education has authorized Superintendent of Schools Raymond Sanchez to write a letter of support for the Middletown City School District’s complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which demands that New York state correct “its inequitable and discriminatory funding system.”

Noting that Ossining “continues to struggle to marshal the resources it needs to ensure that all students receive the best possible education,” the Ossining School District will also provide the Office of Civil Rights with data demonstrating the impact that “discriminatory state aid” has had on Ossining and other high needs, low resources districts. In December 2013, the Middletown City School District filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that school aid is discriminatory against large minority districts. The Middletown complaint is still pending.

Ossining’s mission, said the Board of Education in its resolution authorizing Sanchez' letter, “has been disrupted and impeded by the combination of crushing unfunded mandates, and disparate and inequitable state aid. It is well documented that the freezing of the Foundation Aid formula has harmed the Ossining School District.” Foundation Aid was frozen by New York State in 2008-09.

At the same time, noted board members, Ossining is one of the few school districts in New York that has experienced increasing annual enrollment. At the same time that enrollment has been increasing, the District’s per-pupil Foundation Aid has dwindled and is currently lower than it was seven years ago.  “In fact, if the Foundation Aid formula were unfrozen,” wrote the Board of Education in its resolution, “Ossining would have received an additional $10 million in revenue in the 2014-15 school year alone and an additional $50 million since Foundation Aid was established in 2007.” “As a similarly situated school district, we feel strongly that a ruling in favor of the Middletown School District will have a positive impact on the Ossining School District’s State Aid funding,” said the Ossining board's resolution. “The New York State Foundation Aid formula was intended to direct more funding to school districts with increasing student needs and enrollment – school districts like Ossining.”

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