NYC Mayor Eric Adams Defends Cutting NYC Schools Budgets by $215 Million

Mayor Eric Adams insisted on Monday that his decision to cut New York public school budgets by $215 million due to declining enrollment does not count as a “cut.”

“It’s not a cut and people should be honest,” Adams said during an appearance on Fox 5’s Good Day New York. “Some people talking about it are dishonest. It’s not a cut.

Teachers and advocates have pushed back on reduced allocations, which tie city school budgets to enrollment for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A series of rallies were held at local schools on Monday and another was planned for Monday evening in front of the town hall before the vote on the municipal budget.

The city council is expected to give the controversial plan the go-ahead when members vote on the budget.

A handshake agreement on Friday confirmed that the hit to individual school budgets was planned, even though the budget item had been a sticking point between Adams and the board during the past week of negotiations.

Mayor Eric Adams announced a budget deal at City Hall.
Steven Hirsch

“We haven’t cut the public school budget,” Adams said. “We reallocated the money based on the student population.”

“Nothing is more dysfunctional than paying for something that when you lower the numbers you have to readjust based on how many students you have,” he added.

The city’s public schools have lost some 120,000 students over the past five years, according to the Department of Education.

During the coronavirus pandemic, however, the city suspended the link between individual school budgets and enrollment and used COVID relief funds to help fill the gaps. But since those federal funds are drying up, the administration has proposed reverting to adjusting budgets based on the number of students in each school.

This season’s initial budget cuts totaled $375 million, but to soften the blow, some of that loss was offset by $160 million in federal cash, The Post reported. The city will use $80 million from the US bailout to boost school budgets in 2023.

The mayor noted that if the number of enrollments increases, “we will invest more money in the student population, in the schools, in an appropriate way”.

He said dollars sent to schools serving children struggling on state tests, learning English or those with disabilities will be maintained at 100%.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn teachers and families made a last-ditch attempt to delay the city council’s vote during a Monday morning protest attended by Adams’ predecessor Bill de Blasio.

The former mayor-turned-congressional candidate, who has previously touted his good relationship with Adams, joined protesters at PS 58 The Carroll School in Carroll Gardens.

Asked about de Blasio’s appearance, the town hall reiterated its commitment to “fully fund our schools”.

Mayor Eric Adams takes a fiddle with a student band at the entrance to PS 169.
Mayor Eric Adams takes a fiddle with a student band at the entrance to PS 169.
Robert Miller

“Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest and simply participating in political theater for the purpose of getting clicks. New Yorkers deserve better than politicians playing the role of demagogues,” said Fabien Levy, spokesperson for Adams.

At MS 839 near Kensington, students staged a morning strike and chants like ‘hey hey ho ho the budget cuts must go’ could be understood.

“We need to have a full budget for our school. It’s a budget cut no matter what the mayor says,” said Oliver Cannel, a seventh-grade teacher at the school, where a teacher-led rally was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“As we come out of this year that has been so difficult for so many reasons, the prospect of losing teachers, increasing class sizes, losing enrichment programs, is not acceptable to our community” , he added.

Advocates and principals have warned that teachers may have to be fired if the cuts are implemented.

They also warned that class sizes would increase and that after-school programs in arts and sports teams were also at risk of cuts.

The city council indicated Monday afternoon that there would be no immediate changes to the handshake budget agreement.

“The change in school budgets released last week is the result of the depletion of one-time federal stimulus funds, forcing the City to revert to its existing school budget formula that it had suspended due to these federal funds tied to the pandemic,” said President Adrienne. Adams, Rita Joseph, Chair of the Education Committee, and Gale Brewer, Chair of Oversight and Investigations.

In the statement, Council members promised a joint oversight hearing with the Oversight and Investigative and Education Committees “to identify and review every federal stimulus dollar received or expected” that could close federal funding gaps. lost schools.

The date of the meeting has not been made public.

They also pledged to push the DOE to use more of its more than $30 billion budget for its schools, and less for the “bloated areas of its central operations.”

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan and Sam Raskin.

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