New York

NYC Council to vote on restoring $469M in school cuts

The New York City Council was expected to vote Thursday on a resolution calling on Mayor Adams to restore $469 million in school budget cuts — including some the council itself voted to approve during its June budget negotiation.

The resolution, which would be non-binding, asks Mayor Adams to submit an official budget modification to add $469 million back into the Education Department’s budget — enough to make up for cuts to the nearly 1,200 schools that lost enrollment during the pandemic.

The legislative request represents a significant shift from the council’s position during the original budget negotiations in June, during with lawmakers agreed to a $215 million cut to school budgets.

Many councilmembers have subsequently expressed regret over their budget votes, and have argued that city officials misled them about the true size and effect of the school cuts.

The resolution claims that the original trim approved by the council was supposed to remove only $132 million directly from school budgets, and eliminate only teaching positions that were already vacant.

The true cuts have been far higher, according to analyses by the council and comptroller Brad Lander — and hundreds of teachers have been “excessed,” or fired from their schools and sent to a citywide pool until they’re hired by another school.

“These 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 says.

The Education Department has argued that the cuts included in the budget accounted only for last year’s enrollment losses, and that additional cuts reflect more projected enrollment decline for next year. DOE officials added that teachers are excessed every year, and that the agency never promised the council there wouldn’t be excessing this year.

A spokesman for council speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), who sponsored the new resolution, didn’t immediately respond to a question about what changed between her decision to approve the school cuts in June and her call Thursday to reverse them.

The resolution also comes as a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers — asking a judge to invalidate the budget on procedural grounds and grant the City Council a revote — winds its way through the courts.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Adams pointed to comments he made earlier this week saying “schools are going to open on time, with resources and services.”

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