Educators grapple in planned cuts to NYC school budgets

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Educators are grappling with millions of dollars in planned cuts to New York school budgets.

Recall that the budget for the 2022-23 school year was released this week. While school leaders had expected the cuts, many saw for the first time in two years what their budgets will look like as the federal stimulus funding starts to wind down and they continue to grapple with declining enrollment, which has dropped by 6.4% since the beginning of the pandemic.

For many schools, the cuts will mean rolling back plans to hire more teachers or cutting back on programming.

Schools see budgets that are more closely tied to their enrollment, they’re still grappling with losing students.

Also, New York City has been newly tasked with lowering class sizes over the next five years.

“Maybe some people have dealt with huge attrition, but [the education department is] really lowballing people, and they need to go back to the drawing board,” said one Bronx principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity and may need to cut back on extra support at her school.

Mayor Eric Adams has decided to phase out that pandemic policy as part of his budget proposal for next year.

Under Adams’ proposal, the overall city budget for the education department would drop by about $1 billion next year to just under $31 billion, largely due to the drop in federal stimulus funds provided during the pandemic. While the city is boosting its own contribution to the education department by $720 million as it attempts to expand some initiatives, they’re also planning for a gradual cut to individual school budgets in response to declining enrollment.

Adams wants to cut school budgets gradually over the next two years by backfilling a portion of the cuts with federal stimulus dollars.

According to the IBO, these cuts are coming out of Fair Student Funding, a city formula that sends more money to schools with larger shares of students with disabilities, those learning English as a new language, and students with academic struggles. That pot of money covers about 65% of school budgets and can be used and can be used flexibly to hire staff and create school programming.

Officials have said that they’re not expecting layoffs, but for the city to simply not fill vacant positions.

City officials did not respond to a question about whether there are other cuts to school budgets on top of those to Fair Student Funding.

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