City Council members respond to school budget reports released last week

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
New York City Council

Prior to the impending passage of New York City’s new $100 billion budget, members of the City Council sought to clarify reports of significant funding cuts to education.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph, and Oversight and Investigations Chair Gale Brewer responded to school budget reports released last week with significant changes due to lost funding and declining public school enrollment. 

In the statement released June 13, the three public servants emphasized their commitment to education and public schools, as well as outlined how they would work to ensure that New York City public schools would be able to thrive despite some federal funding and enrollment losses.

“The change in school budgets released last week is the result of one-time federal stimulus funds running out, causing the City to return to its existing school budget formula that it had suspended because of these pandemic-related federal funds,” the statement read. “Our focus must be on equity, ensuring schools and students who have historically been underserved are prioritized.”

In the fiscal year 2023 budget (FY23), NYC Council secured investments in education and youth programs, in addition to the more than $700 million increase in city funds to public schools.

That includes $277 million for the Summer Rising Program to provide free academic enrichment to students, and more than $79 million toward expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to a record-level 100,000 slots. 

Several advocate groups applauded the budget decisions and additional funding allocated to these programs.

“We are encouraged by the priorities outlined by Mayor Adams and Council Speaker Adams during the handshake announcement as well as the detail revealed in budget documents,” the Raise the Age Coalition said in a statement also released June 13. “In addition, this budget agreement makes robust investments in violence interruption initiatives, programs that connect individuals at risk of being affected by gun violence with green jobs, expands Fair Futures to support youth involved in the juvenile justice system, reaches significantly greater numbers of youth through Summer Youth Employment Program, and Work, Learn and Grow, and lifts incomes through a deeper city EITC and stabilizes housing through a fully funded city FHEPS voucher.”

Another group, United Neighborhood Houses also praised the move.

“Today, Mayor Adams and Speaker Adams announced several positive investments in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget that will help strengthen communities and support New Yorkers of all ages,” the group said on June 10. “Doubling the baselined investment in adult literacy education, providing child care for undocumented children, and funding community schools and youth employment programs are all crucial to helping our City continue to rebuild from the COVID pandemic and providing New Yorkers with some relief as they deal with record levels of inflation.”

The City Council members further highlighted their dedication to students and public education throughout NYC.

“Our students are our top priority,” the joint statement said. “That is why we are committing to bringing the full weight of the Council to ensure critical gaps left by lost federal funding and school-specific enrollment are filled when the numbers are updated in September.”

Mayor Eric Adams also provided a statement in regards to the school budget.

“I am proud of the early budget reached with the New York City Council last week, in which we committed to fully funding our schools,” said Mayor Adams on June 13. “But that’s only the beginning — this summer we will provide record funding for summer youth employment, which will provide over 100,000 summer jobs for our young people, in addition to summer academic and enrichment programming for 200,000 of our scholars. The bottom line is that while the pandemic wreaked havoc on our budget, we never doubted our responsibility to prioritize our schools, and therefore, our future generations. Finally, we are always adapting to student and community needs, and my administration is dedicated to increasing funding this fall if student enrollment rebounds.”