The referees, or special masters, were named by Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Leland DeGrasse after the leaders of the state Legislature and Gov. George Pataki failed to broker a compromise by a July 30 deadline. The advocacy group, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, sued the state in 1993 to provide city schools with their fair share of money, and the state's highest court ruled in the organization's favor in June 2003.DeGrasse named John Feerick, a former dean of Fordham University's Law School; E. Leo Milanos, a former judge and bar association president; and William Thompson, a past justice, to the panel. Meeting for the first time last Thursday, the referees set forth their timeline to deal with the state's non-compliance on the court ruling. After attorneys for the governor and the campaign submit their clients' plans, the two parties will meet with the panel Monday to summarize their proposals. On Aug. 31 the parties will register their complaints about the other side's suggestion and identify specific issues that need to be resolved. And on Sept. 8 the panel will hear oral arguments.The referees must report back to DeGrasse by November and are still considering a request by the campaign for public hearings so that others could submit suggestions. In addition to the funding formula, the panel might also consider standards for class size and teacher training."We are pleased that the special master panel plans to act quickly in the coming months to secure educational opportunities children should have already received from their elected officials in years past," said campaign counsel and Executive Director Michael Rebell.After the 2003 court ruling, the governor and both chambers of the state Legislature came up with their own plans, with the Assembly proposing the largest increase in education funding. The panel decided it could not also accept plans directly from the state Senate and Assembly but will consider submissions filed as friend of the court briefs.The governor and the Legislature theoretically could still forge their own deal in the case but are unlikely to do so because of the current schedule and pace of passing the remaining segments of the budget, which has already set a record for lateness. Lawmakers have proposed a $101 billion overall budget, and Pataki has already agreed to sign off on the education portion, expected to increase city school aid by nearly $300 million from last year for a total of $5.5 billion. Any additional money resulting from the 2003 court ruling would not be available for the coming school year."We will take the necessary and responsible action in response to the court proceedings, while we continue to work with the Senate and the Assembly," a spokesman for Pataki said.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.