School budget cut blowout

By Michèle De Meglio

A Brooklyn City Councilman is pushing legislation demanding the reversal of school budget cuts. City Council Member Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Council Member Robert Jackson introduced a resolution “calling upon the mayor to submit an executive budget for fiscal year 2009 that restores proposed cuts to the Department of Education budget.” That would be the $180 million cut this year and the $324 million to be slashed next year. The resolution states, “A fully-funded and empowered public education system is critical to the future of New York City. While New York City has committed to increase its investment in our public schools by $2.2 billion over a four-year period, the mayor has instead reduced the Department of Education budget. “In addition to these city budget cuts, our public schools are also threatened with two funding reductions from the state, which is proposing to decrease the $528 million in additional classroom aid that was promised to New York City by $193 million, and delay state aid for school construction, which will hinder New York City’s ability to implement desperately needed school construction and repairs.” The funding cuts have resulted in the loss of after-school programs and professional development opportunities. They also leave many teachers’ jobs in jeopardy, resulting in increased class size. The city maintains that the economy is faltering, thereby making budget cuts to all city agencies necessary. But critics say it’s irresponsible to take money from public schools, especially in light of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) decision, which deemed city schools severely underfunded and ordered city and state officials to boost funding immediately. “You can’t have fought for well over a decade for justice for New York City schools then start stepping away from those promises,” de Blasio said at a forum at St. Francis College on Remsen Street. “These cuts are reversible,” de Blasio said. “We have to stop this before mayors and governors try to do this regularly.”

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