Education Cuts Get an F

Parents and education advocates voice concerns at CEC 14 Town Hall

Would anyone like to be the one to tell these three-year-olds their education funding is on the budget chopping block? Photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

The release of New York City’s preliminary budget for 2023–2027 has left educators, advocates, and parents of school-age children with more questions than answers.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams declined to make some school cuts he originally proposed following parental pushback. However, his plan revealed that the City still plans to cut funding for the Department of Education (DOE), including an expansion of 3K, preschool for three-year-olds. 

“Underpinning the cuts is the nature of school funding which follow the student. Since COVID 19 there has been a significant decrease in enrollment that has puzzled education and city leaders,” said Michael Rochford, executive director of St. Nicks Alliance.

Another issue reported by Chalkbeat is that Adams used federal relief funding to prevent short-term cuts, which is good for now, but relief funding is set to run out by 2024. “[The move to use relief funding] means that schools may face even more dramatic cuts down the line, as officials contend that school budgets will eventually need to be brought back in line with enrollment, though city officials have not released detailed plans,” they wrote.

So how do we expand support for students in our community with an even smaller budget?

Even NYC Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David Banks seems to be stuck on this question himself. “We don’t establish our own budget,” he said at a meeting with Community Education Council (CEC) 14. “Whatever the mayor decides on that is what I have to work with. I have to do the best I can with what I’ve got.”

CEC 14 President Tajh Sutton pressed on against his statement and urged Banks to develop his plan. She expressed how despite losing a number of students throughout the past few years, there are even more resources available to provide students with. The problem is that budget cuts have caused schools to lose teachers and programming with the inability to recoup those losses.

Sutton offered that CEC 14 has many ideas for how to continue development in our schools, including: “A permanent remote option available to students and staff with disabilities, chronic illness, and those who fall ill; Mandated free devices along with universal free broadband for every NYC public school family with a particular focus on NYCHA and low-income housing; Improved language access; and Notice by mail for transparency on everything from public school budgeting to charters moving into our district.” She continued, “We have been in conversation with our students, parents, school staff, local leaders and district team regarding how budget cuts and divestment in communities have real life consequences such as the recent violence our community is working to heal from. We continue to advocate for mental health, childcare, afterschool, arts, sports, restorative justice, healthcare, housing and jobs programs that will allow our communities to thrive, lessen the severity of interpersonal conflicts, provide appropriate care, de-escalation and resources when conflicts do escalate and provide our children safe places to convene outside of school hours.”

When the issue of cutting 3K expansion arose at the town hall meeting, NYC DOE Deputy Chancellor Kara H. Ahmed said that the new plan is to redistribute seats according to greatest need instead of increasing the number of seats. A survey for school leaders has launched in order to gauge need. “We will continue to try to meet the needs of the community.”

The next step according to Banks is to discuss the budget with community leaders like CEC 14 President Sutton to reach solutions. He said that while he cannot guarantee anything in light of the budget issues, he is “open to brainstorming.”

In the wake of recent school shootings, amping up student safety is another topic on everyone’s minds. The Gothamist reported that Mayor Adams said he wants to invest in door locks and other forms of security.

But Acting District 14 Superintendent David Cintron is among the many who believe that more action needs to be taken to address the roots of why school shootings often happen in the first place. Hence his emphasis on plans to lend support for students, staff, and families to deal with trauma and manage emotions in the form of training and skill-building.

“Part of the solution is to have strict safety measures, but also robust social-emotional learning as preventative measures,” Cintron said.

He is also looking toward pursuing grants in order to increase resources at under-served schools.

“We wouldn’t need over policing if we had resources from the beginning for people to thrive,” said Sutton.

Author: Kassondra Gonzalez

Communications Associate and Contributor of the Greenline.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s