Board members overwhelmingly call on Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks to fix school budgeting policies and restore school budgets by letter

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41 of 51 Council members urge mayor and DOE to restore school budgets with more than $760 million in newly discovered unspent federal stimulus funds ahead of decisions that would separate teachers from existing schools for next year

City Hall, New York – A New York City Council super majority called on Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks to immediately restore individual school budgets using more than $700 million in unspent federal stimulus funds recently uncovered at the department of Education (DOE) for the previous fiscal year. In a letter signed by 41 of the 51 Board members, including President Adrienne Adams, they demanded urgent action from the DOE to restore school budgets within a month, before schools must make decisions on hiring staff. teachers who would separate teachers from their current schools for the upcoming school year. The letter also calls on the DOE to engage in a process with school stakeholders that changes its ineffective school budgeting policies and equitable student funding formula before the next fiscal year and school year.

The full letter is available at this link.

In the letter, the Council expresses its “objection and disappointment with the way the Department of Education manages individual school budgets, [pointing to] The DOE’s return to long-standing, dysfunctional and bureaucratic policies that negatively impact schools [as] counter productive.”

The letter states: “Principals, schools and teachers must make important decisions over the next month, and your continued inaction is hampering their ability to make the right choices for students.

The letter also points out “…reports of the DOE cutting funding to individual schools, unrelated to the city budget, are further evidence of its harmful policies.” He points to gaps in funding levels reported as being cut from school budgets: “The DOE reported a gap in school budgets of approximately $215 million, just 0.06% of the $37.6 billion agency dollars. Although different amounts of funding are being reported as being cut from schools by the DOE, indicating even deeper cuts and the political nature of school budgets, the solution remains the same.[1]. The DOE numbers don’t add up, and it appears to be using the city budget as a smokescreen to escape responsibility for its policies that undermine support for schools.

The letter cites the New York City Independent Budget Office’s identification of “$761 million in unspent federal stimulus funds for fiscal year 2022 and $38.1 million from fiscal year 2021” that the Council application to be used to restore school budgets.

The Council passed the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget with the agreement that it would invest more than $700 million more in city funds for the DOE than the fiscal year 2022 budget. the preliminary budget indicated that spending on school budgets would change based on enrollment, including increased funds for some schools and reduced funds for others, there was a lack of transparency regarding the impact on individual schools , how enrollments were scheduled, and federal stimulus. funds.

Despite the DOE’s assertion during the city’s budget process that enrollment changes in school budgets would result in a $215 million gap due to a lack of federal stimulus funds, stimulus funds not recently uncovered spending and recent reports of further budget cuts contradict these claims. The reality facing schools has become clear based on individual school budgets that have been released later than usual, the result of issues with the same DOE policies on school budgets that the Board is now raising and seizing. are manifested in its rejected school funding formula in its first education policy panel vote. The mayoral administration’s refusal to acknowledge the need to address these DOE issues in the city’s budget process led the Council to announce a monitoring hearing shortly before its vote on the budget to support the resolution.

“As a DOE music educator and proud parent of three girls enrolled in New York City public schools, the Mayor’s school cuts affect me both as a parent and as an educator,” said declared Paul Trust, a Brooklyn teacher and parent of children in public schools in Queens. “The school where I taught students will lose our music program, which is an integral part of the school culture. My daughter’s school will lose a guidance counselor and a classroom teacher, which will lead to increased class sizes and less emotional attention that many students need. I implore the Mayor, Chancellor, and DOE to restore school budgets, so our students get the support and programs they desperately need.

[1] The New York City Comptroller’s Office compared the initial school allocations for fiscal year 2022 to the FSF’s initial allocations for fiscal year 2023 and indicated a “net reduction of $489 million between the two years.” The Comptroller’s Office also said “1,166 schools lost a total of $469 million.”

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