LOWER MANHATTAN — On the last day of school for New York City’s nearly 1 million students, there was a look ahead to next school year, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in school funding cuts that the system faces.
The losses in funding may be considerably greater than has been forecasted, according to the New York City comptroller. Schools Chancellor David Banks said that the funding cuts being made aren’t as large as they could have been, and that there will probably be more reductions in the years ahead.
The conversation on Monday about school funding cuts is the latest in an ongoing discussion among Mayor Eric Adams, Chancellor Banks, as well as the city council and its leader, Speaker Adrienne Adams.
Through negotiations among the parties, a fiscal year budget has been signed that designates just under $31 billion for New York City public schools. That amount is at least $215 million less than the schools received last year.
City Comptroller Brad Lander, whose job it is to monitor city spending, concluded that the $215 million reduction in education funding in the new budget is less than the actual amount being cut.
“If we just want to know every school that’s been told, ‘Cut your budget,'” Lander said in an interview, “it adds up to $469 million.”
His office, he said, has consulted all 1,859 schools citywide, regarding their budgets for the next school year. They found that about a quarter of schools are getting additional funding next year; their budgets are growing because they’ve added students to their populations.
At roughly three-fourths of schools, budgets will be reduced. An analysis of the DOE’s data complied by the education website Chalkbeat concluded that more than 45 percent of schools will face cuts of $100,000 or more, and that more than 25 percent of schools will see drops in budgets of at least $200,000.
Some schools will see their budgets slashed by over a million dollars.
The $469 million in cuts at three-fourths of schools, compared to the gains at the other one-fourth of schools, said Lander, “The net is $372 million.” That amount is clearly greater than the $215 million reduction that the mayor, chancellor, and city council agreed to.
However, during a question-and answer-session late Monday afternoon, Chancellor Banks said the $372 million reflects cuts that need to be made system-wide due to shrinking enrollments, but which are not happening in the coming school year.
“We took 215 [million dollars’ reduction] as a way of weaning them off, you follow me?” he said. “We didn’t want the schools to go from where they are today to a 372 million [dollar reduction]. We felt as though that would be just jumping off the cliff.”
“If you think people are complaining now with a $215 million drop,” he continued, “can you imagine what we would be doing if it was a 372 million drop?”
He said the goal was to phase it in. In other words, he continued, more budget reductions are needed, and should be expected in subsequent school years, especially if enrollments drop. Banks said that the New York City public school population has dropped from about 1.1 million in 2017 to approximately 925,000 now.
The comptroller, as well as some city council members who are now hearing complaints from constituents, say that federal stimulus money that the city has could be used to fill in some or all of the budget gap. However, the chancellor said, doing so would lead to even greater reductions once the stimulus funds run out.
He called the current budget reductions responsible, and added, “No teacher in the system will lose their job because of this right-sizing,” as he called the budget cutting.
Teachers who are cut from their schools — a process known as excessing — due to budget reductions, he said, will be at the top of hiring lists for schools whose budgets are growing.
“The good news is no teacher will lose their jobs,” Banks said. “The bad news is if [your school has] lost students, you will lose teachers.”