Religious and independent day schools in New York City will receive an additional $37.7 million in government funding for the upcoming school year as a result of a years-long effort spearheaded by the Jewish Education Project and a coalition of interfaith organizations. The recouped funding for Title I programs will help teachers and students at religious and independent schools in New York City access new educational resources and promote more opportunities for professional learning.
The recovered funding for Title I, a federal nationwide program that provides services and additional support for the most economically disadvantaged students in public and private schools, was finalized July 9 after a majority of the members of the New York City Committee of Religious and Independent Schools agreed to a resolution of their complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education against the New York City Department Of Education.
Title I stipulates that local education agencies are required to provide eligible students at private elementary and high schools with the same Title I services or benefits as public-school students. The Jewish Education Project worked with Avrohom Weinstock and Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America; Michael Coppotelli, assistant superintendent of the Archdiocese of New York; the Brooklyn Queens Diocese; the Lutheran Schools Association; and the Islamic Schools Association on this project. The Jewish Education Project and partner organizations urged the New York City Department of Education for many years to adjust its funding formula for Title I. The agreement allows the schools to have full access to Title I funding to which they are legally entitled.
According to the new funding agreement, the NYC Department of Education announced it would provide an additional $37.7 million in Title I funds for the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 school years after analyses had shown that religious and independent schools had been underfunded for Title I for years. Religious and independent schools in New York City will receive a base allocation of $83.2 million in Title I funding during the upcoming fiscal year, a 24-percent increase from the past school year. An additional $19.7 million will be added to the Title I funding for the 2019–2020 school year from the restitution funds.
“I am grateful to be a part of a community of organizations that come together in the interest of all the children in our city. Together we have helped advocate for the rightful return of $37.7 million to assist the neediest students in NYC religious and independent schools,” said Sara Seligson, managing director of day schools and yeshivot and school food services, and chairperson of the New York State Education Department, Commissioner’s Advisory Council for Religious and Independent Schools.
The majority of the members of the New York City Committee of Religious and Independent Schools successfully argued that the New York City Department of Education used an inaccurate methodology for counting economically disadvantaged students attending nonpublic schools. Additionally, the schools objected to the arbitrary cap the New York City Department of Education put on the number of nonpublic school students counted in the Title I funding formula. The schools also contested that nonpublic schools’ Title I allocations were used to pay for services such as psychologists from New York City Department of Education. The settlement figures are based on a five-year lookback period.
The Jewish Education Project’s Day Schools and Yeshivas team works with nearly 400 schools and thousands of teachers in greater New York to help school leaders improve their leadership skills, integrate technology, and measure their school’s success. The Jewish Education Project strives to provide an excellent education — Jewish and secular — to over 112,000 Jewish day school students of all backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities.