Hike funding

Long Island’s ‘intensely segregated’ schools lack funding to provide equitable services

Long Island has ‘intensely segregated’ public school districts and fewer educational resources than predominantly white districts, according to a report of the advocacy group ERASE Racism on Monday.

The report shows that 40 majority-white school districts spend nearly $10,000 more on each student and receive 25% more district funding than 11 schools that serve nearly all nonwhite students.

Elaine Gross, President of erase racism, said the pandemic was an opportunity to boost equity in schools through remote learning and services. However, Gross said the “intensely segregated” districts are underfunded.

“We made device-related phone calls in 2021 to see if students had devices at home, computers or laptops or something that would allow them to learn remotely,” Gross said. “Also at the start of 2021, some students have never had a device. So if you have

budget stress, you’re less likely to be able to quickly pivot and just buy a bunch of devices for your students or something.

Predominantly black and Latino school districts also have less access to advanced level courses due to their lack of education funding. In the more affluent neighborhoods, for 99 white students, there is an AP course they can take. In poor colored neighborhoods, it’s one for every 179 students.

“If you don’t take AP classes, which are no longer a luxury, you’re at a disadvantage moving forward,” Gross said. “Now that schools have accustomed more and more people to remote learning…If a student doesn’t have an AP course available in their district, why not allow them to take it in another district?”

Gross pointed to New York State as the only way to address the lack of resources in these more segregated neighborhoods.

“I think what anyone who reads this research and is troubled by it can do is they can suggest both to their elected officials and to the New York State Department of Education, that they can to suggest that this is a priority, that this represents a crisis and needs to be addressed,” Gross said.

State funding for districts on Long Island has increased by more than $457 million for the upcoming school year. Districts received a similar boost this year due to federal coronavirus relief funding.

Voters last week approved a more than 10% spending increase to revamp services in five neediest school districts, including Brentwood, Hempstead, Copiague, Roosevelt and Wyandanch, while tax hikes stood just 1%.