- New York City officials are proposing a school finance change that would give extra weight to students experiencing homelessness and in temporary housing — including those seeking asylum — when calculating the local Fair Student Funding formula. This formula provides the main source of money for most schools in the city.
- The proposal is expected to increase funding for schools by $45 million, according to a Jan. 23 announcement by Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks.
- A statement from the mayor’s office described the proposal as “a groundbreaking shift in how schools allocate resources to public school students, with this specific focus on supporting students who reside in temporary housing."
The change would make New York City Public Schools one of the first school systems in the nation to give extra weight in local funding formulas to students experiencing homelessness, said Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, which advocates for homeless students. According to a 2020 Edunomics Lab report, Houston is the only other major district in the nation to do so.
Banks said New York City's proposal is part of an effort to put "into place genuine change to support our schools and our kids." In the 2021-22 school year, about 1 in 10 students were homeless in New York City for the seventh consecutive year, according to Advocates for Children of New York.
Nationwide, enrollment of homeless students dipped in the 2020-21 school year, likely at least partially due to reduced communication between schools and families who were homeless during the pandemic. That's particularly concerning to homeless student advocates and district liaisons, considering the number of students experiencing homelessness is thought to have increased since the pandemic began.
An estimated 420,000 fewer students were identified at the start of the 2020-21 school year, according to a 2020 survey of McKinney-Vento liaisons conducted by SchoolHouse connection. The organization said up to 1.4 million homeless students remained unidentified and without school supports at the time.
To help schools serve this population, the last round of federal aid funding through the American Rescue Plan Act pumped a historic $800 million into the Homeless Children and Youth program. Before then, only about 1 in 4 districts received dedicated funding for homeless students.
Yet despite a push from some lawmakers to sustain that funding, the latest federal budget only raised the program's funding to $129 million for fiscal 2023. That represented an almost 40% increase from prior to the pandemic, but is still far below the more recent ARP funding.
Duffield called New York City's proposed investment for homeless students "very much needed."
The proposal now goes to the NYC Department of Education's Panel for Educational Policy for review, according to the mayor's office.