Council passes resolution to reverse reductions in school budget

New York City Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Adams.
Photo by Dean Moses

The New York City Council unanimously passed Resolution 283-A on Tuesday, which calls upon both Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Schools Chancellor David C. Banks to immediately reverse the Department of Education’s (DOE) reductions to school budgets.

The resolution, sponsored by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, calls for the DOE to restore the $469 million that was originally removed from school budgets as announced earlier this year. The resolution also calls for Chancellor Banks to submit updated school budgets to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) to accurately reflect the funding restoration and full account of unspent federal stimulus funds – which have not yet been provided to the public.

“Our resolution directs the Mayor and Chancellor to facilitate DOE restoring the $469 million it has removed from school budgets, an amount that is nearly three times greater than any reductions in the city budget,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams in a statement Sept 6. “This resolution focuses attention on how DOE implements its $37 billion budget, with its actions increasingly occurring outside of public accountability and transparency. These unaccountable actions must cease to truly support our students and school communities, and DOE must reverse them. The answer to declining enrollment cannot be simply for DOE to take money from schools.”

Resolution 283-A also shows that the DOE removed nearly three times more from the NYC public school budget than was initially indicated in the city’s budget. Initially $250 million was going to be divested from the school budget as the result of decreased enrollment with $131.5 million attributed directly to budget reductions and the additional $83.1 million was to be associated with fringe cost savings to the DOE’s central budget.

However, ultimately the overall reductions to the school budget totalled over $360 million for all schools and $469 million for schools that were provided with lower Fair Student Funding allocations. 

“[t]hese school budget reductions have gone far beyond the elimination of vacancies within the city budget to impact existing teachers and programming in schools,” the resolution states.

Previously, Mayor Adams commented on the budget saying the city may need to brace for harder times, but that the city would provide for its children’s education.

“We are committed to providing every available resource to our students,” Mayor Adams said. “Still, we also must acknowledge the changing conditions that so many are unwilling to recognize and, just as importantly, that there is no hidden pool of city money or additional federal stimulus funds, as has been previously inaccurately reported, that we can tap. We will continue to fight for additional resources from our federal and state partners, but if we don’t get those additional funds, the truth is we are in for harder times ahead. This isn’t a problem we can solve alone, but one that we must work to solve it together.”

A city hall spokesperson responded to requests for comments on the City Council resolution, saying that both Adams and Banks were resolute in providing resources for students.

“Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks are committed to providing students with the best education possible and every single student in our school system remains at 100% Fair Student Funding,” the spokesperson told amNew York on Sept 6. “After hearing from principals and other community leaders that they need additional time to adjust to the decline in enrollment, this administration announced a package of $150 million in additional support for schools. Further, we have allocated all federal stimulus dollars to critical programs and needs. We look forward to opening our schools with the resources they need to ensure our students thrive.”

The NYC Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams also addressed the education budget, emphasizing how money can translate into necessary tools and experiences for learning.

“Rearranging money is not the same as restoring it,” said Williams in a statement on Tuesday. “Cutting the DOE budget has real, tangible consequences for our students. It looks like larger class sizes, reductions in the number of teachers, elimination of arts programs and guidance counselors, and decreased support for students with disabilities. It means schools that are not investing in what we know promotes public safety, including healing-centered schools and mental health supports.”

Last updated 9/6/2022 3:34 pm