By Eliza Shapiro, Keshia Clukey and Conor Skelding | 04/19/2017 09:59 AM EDT

BRIGHTON'S BUDGET GAINS SHED LIGHT ON FUNDING PROCESS — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey: Tweaks made to the state's school aid formula in the new state budget include a calculation set up solely to drive hundreds of thousands of dollars to a school district outside of Rochester. While the some say the aid is needed due to a budget gap created by a previous cap in the formula calculation, others say the change embodies inequities created by not fully running and funding the Foundation Aid formula.

"This is one of the types of problems that the Foundation Aid formula is designed to eliminate and that is manipulation of school funding formulas to produce desired outcomes for specific districts," said Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, a labor-backed advocacy group. "Generally the reason that formulas are manipulated in school aid is to satisfy political motivations."

The state's $153.1 billion budget includes approximately $25.8 billion in education aid, an increase of about $1.1 billion, or 4.4 percent, over 2016-17. Though the budget had a few changes, updating the decade-old Foundation Aid formula, it did not include plans for fully phasing it in, which state education leaders say would add an additional $4.3 billion to districts statewide.

In lieu of a phase-in, the budget creates four tiers to drive additional aid to districts. One tier distributes aid to districts with large populations of English language learners, another for the state's small city school districts and a third for the Big Five school districts — Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and New York City.

One of the tiers, "Tier B," is written specifically for Monroe County's Brighton Central School District, sending it $749,154 in additional aid. None of the state's roughly 700 school districts qualifies for the tier save for Brighton. The school district is represented by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Democrat, and Sen. Joe Robach, a Republican. Morelle attributed the aid increase to the district's needs. Read more here.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING. Carmen Fariña will attend a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy. MaryEllen Elia and Betty Rosa and did not release public schedules. The City Council education committee will hold hearings on several resolutions.

This newsletter is for you, so tell us how we can make it better. Send feedback, tips and education-related events to, and Follow us on Twitter: @elizashapiro, @keshiaclukey and @conorskelding.

BREITBART TAKES ON CITY SCHOOLS' LEAD TROUBLES: Elevated lead levels in New York City schools are now apparently worthy of a Breitbart dressing down. The conservative news site aggregated recent New York Post coverage of one Brooklyn school with unusually high lead levels. The post is tagged "big government" and "pre-viral." Read the post here. Read the Post story here.

— Deputy chancellor Elizabeth Rose and deputy health commissioner Oxiris Barbot wrote a Medium post defending the city's actions to reduce lead in water at schools. Read the full post here.

ELIA ORDERS HEARING ON PALADINO REMOVAL REQUEST — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey: State education commissioner MaryEllen Elia is moving forward with a petition calling for the removal of Buffalo developer Carl Paladino from the city's school board, setting a hearing date for June 22, according to a news release. Read more here.

— Read the hearing order here. (Note that the date of the hearing written in the order has since been changed from May 18 to June 22.)

EDUCATION MOVES: "Two Suffolk County school districts — Springs and Shoreham-Wading River — have both announced the appointments of veteran educators as superintendents." — Newsday's Joie Tyrrell. Read more here.

ZIMPHER: EXCELSIOR SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDES 'MORE OPTIONS' — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey: While it's too early to tell how many students will benefit from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Excelsior scholarship program, it does put "more options" on the table, State University of New York chancellor Nancy Zimpher said Tuesday." Read more here.

— Listen to "The Capitol Pressroom" interview with Zimpher here and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Beth Akers providing a critique of the scholarship, here.

— Quote of the day: "This has all the earmarks of something that was simply reverse engineered from the headline the governor wanted to see."— EJ McMahon, a former government official who is now with the fiscal watchdog group The Empire Center. — WNYC's Karen DeWitt. Read more here.

— Bonus quote: "How can the governor out of one side of his mouth say 'free tuition,' and then out of the other side of his mouth raise tuition? ... Make up your mind, governor, is there no tuition and it's free or are you raising tuition?" — Assemblyman Charles Barron, at a City Hall press conference with his wife, Councilwoman Inez Barron, criticizing Excelsior

— "'Mr. Cuomo's Free* College Plan' (editorial, April 15) contains few details on the program's merits and even fewer on the program's alleged flaws. The Excelsior Scholarship has set a national standard for college access by providing free tuition at New York's public colleges for any family making less than $125,000 per year." — Robert Mujica defending the plan in the New York Times. Read the full letter here.

— "Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, Orange County, is trying to get the Cuomo administration to change the requirement that recipients work in New York — which if broken would turn the free tuition into a loan for students to pay back." — Gannett's Joe Spector. Read more here.

— Zimpher's next step: Outgoing SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher could wind up working at the University at Albany and with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government after she steps down in June. Speaking with Arbetter, Zimpher wouldn't give specific details on her next move, saying, "I'm not stepping down from the work, just a different platform." In October she told POLITICO something similar, saying her next career won't fit into a "particular box."

Zimpher said she also will continue her national work, for example chairing the board of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, which she co-founded. "I expect to continue pushing, 'access plus completion equals success,'" she said. ... StriveTogether is based in Cincinnati, where she has family and purchased a high-end condo in 2015. Where will she end up? "It's too soon to call," she said. — POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey

THE DREAM (ACT) IS DEAD — POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino: State Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference, stopped short of declaring defeat Tuesday on ever passing the Dream Act in the state Legislature, but he did not sound optimistic about the legislation's prospects. Read more here.

DANTE'S YALE TUITION: The de Blasio family paid $31,217 to Yale University for Dante's tuition, according to the family tax returns, released Tuesday. (The family took New York's college tuition tax credit.) That's around half of the university's cost for the 2015-16 academic year — $62,200 for tuition, room, and board. — POLITICO New York's Conor Skelding


— "[The New York City] Department of Education's 103-day average response time to public records requests under the state's Freedom of Information Law makes it the least responsive of more than a dozen city agencies." — Chalkbeat's Alex Zimmerman. Read more here.

— "Syracuse high schools are looking for about 70 mentors to help seniors graduate on time this spring." — Post Standard's Julie McMahon. Read more here.

— "A substitute teacher at School 14 told four fifth-graders to change the answers on a recent state test, Troy City School District officials confirmed Tuesday." — Times Union's Kenneth Crowe II. Read more here.


— "Princeton University unveiled plans for a major campus expansion and new residential college that could include a footbridge across Lake Carnegie to potential new facilities in West Windsor." — NJ Advance Media's Anna Merriman. Read more here.


— "The Every Student Succeeds Act sought to give states flexibility to put their own stamp on accountability systems, including setting their own goals for student achievement and moving beyond reading and math test scores in rating student and school performance. ...The details are just starting to emerge from the handful of plans submitted earlier this month to the U.S. Department of Education, which reveal a varied policy picture across a wide range of accountability categories." — Education Week's Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa. Read more here.

— ICYMI: "On Tuesday, Say Yes [to Education] was expected to announce a new initiative with America's Promise Alliance, another nonprofit seeking to boost graduation rates in the U.S. where 83% of students finished high school in four years in 2015, up from 79% in 2011. While that percentage has risen, educators caution that many seniors who get diplomas aren't ready for college-level work." — Wall Street Journal's Leslie Brody. Read more here.

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