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Decades Later, New York City Wins Fight To Get More State Education Funding -- $600 Million For Next Year

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a historic increase in state education funding for New York City schools.

It's the result of a battle that has been fought for decades.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner has more on what it means for students this fall.

More staff, school supplies and even new athletic programs are some of what can become a reality for the city's most disadvantaged schools in the fall, thanks to a $600 million investment.

"For years and years we all saw an injustice in this city, that some schools got more money each year consistently than other schools and perpetuated divisions that were unacceptable," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

It is estimated schools were shortchanged billions of dollars.

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The Fair Student Funding Formula calculates how much a school should get per student. For example, students with disabilities and multi-lingual students need extra support.

In the last few years, some schools only received 80% to 90% of that money. Education advocates say that's because the state wasn't meeting its court-mandated funding obligations.

There were high hopes after a ruling in the early 2000s.

"I think this is a defining moment for education in the country. This is a terribly important decision," city Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy said back in 2001.

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And now, during a pandemic, Julie Cavanagh, the principal of PS 15 in Red Hook, says it'll increase her budget by 10% in what has been a tough year.

"A guidance counselor for us as well as additional personnel for the academic support that our students are going to need," Cavanagh said.

Education advocates say it's a long time coming.

"That's going to be able to fully fund our schools in ways that matter to our communities, in particular Black and brown students, Latinx students, that have been shortchanged for years," said Maria Bautista, campaign director for Alliance for Quality Education.

READ MOREEducation Advocacy Group Finds Over 100 NYC Public Schools Sharing Buildings With Charter Schools Were Shortchanged Millions In Funding

And there's hope it leads to smaller class sizes.

"New York City class sizes are 15-30% larger than those in the rest of the state," said Leonie Haimson, executive director of the group Class Size Matters.

"I know students who are logging on, trying to log on with a cellphone. One in 4 students right now with special needs are not getting adequate services, their mandated services," special education advocate Heather Clarke added.

Principals will decide where the money goes for their school. As for oversight, the New York State Comptroller's Office says it does have the ability to audit.

The $600 million is part of an annual three-year investment, so schools can also make long-term plans.

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