NYC Comptroller says new analysis shows many schools welcoming newcomer students faced budget cuts

Comptroller Brad Lander
Comptroller Brad Lander.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office released a new analysis which alleges that a majority of schools that welcomed new-coming asylum-seeking students faced several significant budget cuts earlier this year. 

The Comptroller’s office’s analysis findings indicated an estimated 368 city public schools enrolling asylum-seeking students are owed more than $39 million in Fair Student Funding (FSF) – a number calculated by utilizing enrollment-related data and formulas which primarily provide schools with their budgets, while factoring in and need-based students.

This means that according to the Comptroller, approximately 83% of schools welcoming and instructing asylum-seeking students faced FSF budget cuts earlier this fiscal year.

Additionally, the Comptroller’s office says that an additional 36% experienced a 10% or more cut of their FSF funding.

“New York City schools are opening their arms to new students as only this city of immigrants can, but they need all the help they can get to meet this challenge,” said Comptroller Lander in a statement Nov. 9. “As the city moves beyond standing up emergency measures in response to the arrival of asylum seekers in NYC, it’s time to make comprehensive funding plans to meet the needs of these students and ensure that the schools welcoming them have the programming and support staff needed to help them succeed.”

On Oct. 31, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) released their School Allocation Memorandum 65 which provided schools with six or more newcomer students with approximately $2,000 per student to be spent to help their learning experiences – amounting to about $12 million total for the schools selected on a need-basis.

However, a representative from the DOE disagreed with the Comptroller’s analysis, saying that funding was already provided to schools enrolling asylum-seeking students with $25 million provided in enrollment adjustments, $50 million in new needs adjustments and an additional $200 million increase to overall school budgets. 

“NYC Public Schools are wholly committed to providing adequate supports to every school receiving additional students and we are proud of the work that has been done to ensure all schools are fully funded at present,” DOE spokesperson Jenna Lyle told amNew York on Nov. 10. “While the Comptroller correctly cites our recent allocation of $12 million to schools receiving six or more new students in temporary housing, we are disappointed that this report fails to account for the more than $25 million in funding, additional to the $12 million, that has already been delivered to schools facing enrollment increases. This $25 million is part of a recently announced $200 million increase to school budgets via NYC Public Schools’ decision to hold schools harmless for mid-year enrollment losses. We deeply appreciate the Comptroller’s focus on our students in temporary housing and look forward to working in tandem with the Comptroller to support all students.”