Home > Uncategorized > NYC’s Budget Sign of What’s to Come Everywhere: COVID Cuts = Compromised Programs = Collision Course

NYC’s Budget Sign of What’s to Come Everywhere: COVID Cuts = Compromised Programs = Collision Course

July 24, 2020

Wednesday’s Chalkbeat article by Reema Amin had a headline that read:

In financial crisis, NYC cut $707M from its education budget. These programs will feel the effects.

The programs listed ranged from painful to heartbreaking:

  • A hiring freeze across the education department, proposed in April, is expected to save at least $56 million this fiscal year, according to budget documents.
  • The final budget erases Teacher’s Choice, a program that reimburses teachers and other school staff, including social workers and literacy coaches, for certain classroom supplies. Teachers received reimbursements up to $250.
  • About $9 million, year over year, was cut from the community schools program, which provides wraparound services for high needs students at 267 schools. These schools, which the city publicly celebrated just six months ago, forge contracts with community-based organizations to provide a range of services, such as academic help, mental health counseling or free eye screenings.
  • The department’s borough field support offices, which help schools with professional development, hiring, and budgets, services for English language learners and students with disabilities, and safety issues, among other matters, will see $20 million in cuts this fiscal year.

Other cuts include:

  • $40 million to school allocation memos, which pay for a range of school-level services, including social workers, restorative justice programs, and programming for students with disabilities and for English language learners. The education department has not yet said how these cuts would be distributed.
  • $112.6 million in cuts to professional development. The education department has said those cuts would be from non-mandated trainings.
  • $38.8 million in savings, between fiscal years 2020 and 2021, from eliminating the department’s travel and conference budget because the pandemic has “substantially limited travel for work and events with most becoming virtual.”
  • $50 million in savings from not using school buses for summer school (though the education department said no contracts have been cut as they are “still in talks” with vendors).
  • $4 million to pause the Teaching Fellows program, which trains and helps place future teachers.
  • $43.8 million saved in delaying the expansion of 3K, one of the mayor’s signature early childhood education programs.

My bet is that many non-educators will look at the cuts to staff development and wraparound services and shrug… but as one who led school districts for 29 years I find these the most heartbreaking. The cuts wraparound services are absolutely critical to supporting children with the greatest social and psychological needs and the staff development provides teachers with much needed support— especially at a time when a massive conversion to remote learning is underway. But here’s the really bad news: just as we are just finishing the first wave of COVID, we are witnessing only the first wave of cuts. Ms. Amin writes:

In the current fiscal year, which began July 1 and runs through June 30, 2021, the department’s budget will total just over $27 billion — about 3% less than the year before. Additionally, New York City has received less state money than last year, since state lawmakers replaced some of its contribution to districts with the exact amount they are expected to receive in federal coronavirus relief dollars. The state could choose to cut additional money from local budgets if its own fiscal crisis grows.

I am willing to wager that the State’s own fiscal crisis WILL grow in the weeks ahead… and when it does, I fully expect mid year cuts and an even lower budget for 2021-22. Unless public education is funded, it will be hopelessly floundering for years to come.


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