NEW YORK — Faced with a financial crisis, New York City cut more than $182 million in funding for the Department of Education in the budget passed late Tuesday.
While the cut is not as large as anticipated, the Education Department budget is still set to lose nearly $405 million over the course of two years. The coronavirus pandemic devastated the city’s finances.
“This budget reflects our commitment to schools and the incredible fiscal challenges that the entire City faces and we are tirelessly advocating for critical State and Federal aid,” a DOE spokesperson said.
In a letter to teachers obtained by PIX11 News, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said he hoped the department could get funding from the state or from the federal government.
“We are depending on State and federal leaders to come through for us,” he wrote. “We cannot bear the burden alone.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said 22,000 city workers could be laid off if the city doesn’t receive help and it’s not clear how that would impact the DOE if it happens.
“We do not yet know how those would be implemented across city agencies,” Carranza said. “We do know that this uncertainty is very worrisome, and I am hoping with every fiber of my being that such actions will not be necessary.”
One of the biggest cuts to the Education Department’s budget is a $40 million cut to School Allocation Memorandums, which allow principals to use money for what they need at their schools, officials said.
There’s also a hiring freeze that’s expected to save the DOE millions. Per Carranza’s letter to teachers, that means “that virtually all vacant positions will not be backfilled. ”
There’s also $21 million in cuts to per session budgets, which will reduce opportunities for students outside of school hours, and $10 million in cuts to the Schools Out NYC after school program.
City Councilman Mark Treyger, chair of the city's education committee, voted yes on the budget, but also cirticized it.
"The mayor put forth a deeply punitive executive budget, prioritizing funding cuts to direct services for children," he said. "The administration has overwhelmingly rebuffed the alternative cuts proposed by this body both to the NYPD and to other agencies, cuts which would have shifted the pain away from everyday New Yorkers and toward the administration."
Lawmakers did share some good news about the budget: they were able to restore a previously proposed $100 million Fair Student Funding reduction. Single Shepherd funding, which is used to pair students with dedicated school counselors or social workers, was also restored.
“Even with these restorations, going back to last July, the net impact of budget reductions over Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 has been over a billion dollars,” Carranza wrote to teachers.