Elected officials are demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio reconsider his plans to slash the education budget by about $827 million.
On April 16, the mayor announced several education cuts during his budget plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Chalkbeat, de Blasio’s proposal cuts and savings would shrink the education department’s budget by three percent the next fiscal year compared to this fiscal year, which ends June 30. If the mayor’s proposal is approved, it would be the first time since 2013 that the city cut overall education spending.
“Our top priorities are simple: we will keep people safe, protect their health, make sure there is a roof over their head and that food is on their table,” said de Blasio during the conference. “There is no cost too great to keeping New Yorkers protected, but Washington must also step up. New Yorkers deserve nothing less than the full support of our federal government in this time of crisis.”
He added, “The buck stops with me, and I vow to continue fighting on behalf of our children and to continue working with all of our parents whose voices help improve our school system every day.”
Local elected officials stated that every measure should be taken to prevent cuts to schools.
“At a moment when so many families are struggling and schools will be making up for lost time, it would be malpractice to cut school funding,” State Senator Andrew Gounardes told this paper. “The budget has ballooned by $20 billion under Mayor de Blasio, and we need to exhaust every option to raise revenues from the wealthiest and cut nonessential programs rather than cut a single dollar from our schools.”
“We all know painful budget cuts will be an unfortunate reality this year but that doesn’t mean we’re gonna surrender – certainly not when it comes to our public school kids who are already going through so much,” added Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Now’s not the time to look at making cuts to the day-to-day functioning of schools and our school communities. Instead, let’s look at the more than $6 billion the DOE spends every year on central office administrators.”
Councilmember Mark Treyger, chair of the Committee on Education, stated that New York City students were struggling before COVID-19 and the decision would only cause them to be even further behind.
“Our students were short-changed before the pandemic, with large class sizes, too few social workers and guidance counselors, and too few permanent school nurses,” he said. “Our students will never get back the instructional time they have missed during the pandemic. They will never get back the missed milestones, like graduations, field trips, and proms. They will never get back lost family members, friends, principals, educators, paraprofessionals, counselors, cafeteria workers, and other loved ones. We cannot impose more pain and loss on them by cutting direct services, unless we have turned over every stone to find other areas to cut.”
The education proposal presented during the budget plan includes:
. Fair student funding reduction prioritizing schools that already have over 100% (DOE) – $100M in FY21
· Operational savings in training, overtime, and materials at schools, central and field due to school building closures (DOE) – $100M in FY20
· Professional Development reduction (DOE) – $67M in FY21 and outyears
· Cuts to Summer in the City, Single Shepherd, College Access for All (DOE) – $49M in FY21 and outyears
· Delay in 3K Expansion to districts in 1, 12, 14, and 29 (DOE) – $43M in FY21
· Reducing the ATR pool by implementing a non-ATR hiring freeze (DOE) – $40M in FY21 and outyears
· Temporary reduction of School Allocation Memoranda, which provides schools with funding to implement programming (DOE) – $40M in FY21
· Temporary delay of new cohort of freshmen for CUNY ASAP program (CUNY) – $20M in FY21
· Contract and supply reductions associated with arts programming in middle and high schools (DOE) – $15.5M in FY21 and outyears
· Savings from delayed installation of air conditioners (DOE) – $10M in FY21
· Monthly MetroCard underutilization for remaining 2 months of academic year (CUNY) – $6.8M in FY20
· Eliminate District/Charter Partnerships program – $4.4M in FY21 and outyears
· Eliminate supplies and materials used in Civics for All curriculum and programming (DOE) – $3.8M in FY21 and outyears
· Adjustments to SONYC Afterschool budget (DOE) – $5M in FY21 and outyears
· Savings achieved from anticipated low summer enrollment in CUNY Start Math program (CUNY) – $800K in FY20 and $1.6M in FY21
· Scaling down contracts, technology curriculum and health education certification programming for teachers (DOE) – $1.8M in FY21 and outyears
“The mayor loves to say how the next school year will need to be ‘the most extraordinary in history’ in order to help kids catch up after several months of lost in-person instruction,” Brannan added. “So then let’s take a good, hard look at the DOE budget and make sure that every damn dollar is going towards supporting students and making sure teachers will have the tools they need to help students catch up come September.”