By Matthew Fischetti
City officials announced this week that education budgets are not going to be facing further cuts, despite mid-year enrollment declines.
In a joint statement on Monday Nov. 7, Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks announced that the budget would be offset by the use of COVID-19 stimulus funds.
“The decision to hold school budgets harmless is about prioritizing the needs of the nearly 1 million children served by New York City public schools every day,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “We know that our entire school community was and still remains deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But under our administration, we are committed to ensuring that every school has the resources needed to provide the highest quality education for students to thrive.”
Mid-year adjustments are part of the city’s Fair Student Formula Funding process, which gives more money to schools with increased enrollment rates and institutes cuts to schools with decreased enrollment rates. New York City public schools have lost over 130,000 students over the last five years according to a June 2022 report from the Department of Education.
While stimulus funds will be used to cover the budget shortfalls for this upcoming year, the administration said in a statement that schools should plan to the typical mid-year adjustment period if enrollments decline or increase. Schools that were projected to receive an increase in funding this year will still gain them.
The funds will result in a $200 million increase in school budgets and the adjustment process will begin later this month and continue through midwinter, according to a release from the New York City Department of Education.
Comptroller Brad Lander released a statement on Monday, commending the decision by the administration after criticizing the decision by hizzoner and the city council to approve cuts back in June. The city council has since passed a resolution back in June, calling on the administration to restore the cuts by using federal funds.
“Holding schools harmless for enrollment declines so that they can provide the instruction and support our students need after these hard pandemic years is exactly the purpose of COVID relief funds,” Comptroller Brad Lander said in a statement. “I’m glad that the administration and the Chancellor have finally come to the same conclusion.”
Advocates and parents groups across the city decried the decision back in June, which the Comptroller’s office has estimated to total $469 million.
“While this commitment to hold school budgets harmless from mid-year cuts for enrollment declines is a step in the right direction, it does nothing to repair the damage and restore the funding that was cut from public schools in the city’s budget last summer,” Matt Gonzales of New Yorkers for Racially Just Public Schools (RJPS) said in a statement.