District 22 tries to roll back budget cuts

By Michèle De Meglio

District 22’s Community Education Council filed paperwork in hope of reversing the recent budget cuts to public schools. The CEC unanimously passed a resolution opposing the cuts – $180 million this year and $324 million next year – and is preparing to send the document to the city Department of Education. “The mayor committed to raise New York City’s investment in our children’s education by $2.2 billion over four years but is taking back $180 million this year, with $100 million coming right out of the classrooms, and cutting an additional $324 million next year for a two-year total of more than one-half billion dollars,” the CEC asserted in its resolution. It continued, “The governor and the state legislature promised a $528 million increase to New York state’s basic operating aid to New York City for 2008-09, but the proposed executive budget cuts this amount to $335 million.” “We’re obviously very concerned,” said Christopher Spinelli, president of the CEC, which represents schools in Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay. “I don’t know why we are still discussing the budget cuts considering the CFE money has come to schools,” he continued. That’s the billions won in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, which found city public schools severely underfunded. In spite of the additional cash, the city and state say they’re slashing school funding because the economy is heading for a recession. But parents argue that budget cuts to schools will result in the loss of after-school programs and professional development for teachers. Some Brooklyn schools say they’ll even lose teachers, increasing class size as a result. “This is going to hit schools very hard,” Spinelli said. Rather than take money away from schools, Spinelli said the DOE should cut funding from the bureaucracy at its Tweed Courthouse headquarters. “I think they need to look there before they look at cutting funds for our students,” he said. During the last two fiscal years, the DOE says it cut $230 million from the bureaucracy and sent the money to schools.

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