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Critics to DOE: Scrap consultants

Responding to the mayor’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the City Council opposed additional funding cuts to city schools and instead said the DOE should trim the fat from its bureaucracy.

By Michèle De Meglio

School budget cuts can be avoided if the city Department of Education (DOE) kisses its pricy consultants goodbye, according to the City Council.

Responding to the mayor's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the City Council opposed additional funding cuts to city schools and instead said the DOE should trim the fat from its bureaucracy.

“I think suggesting that the contracts division of the Department of Education has gotten bloated is an understatement,” said Councilmember Lew Fidler. “They're sole-sourcing contacts to companies in England to do things that we have trained professionals here to do without competitive bidding.”

Councilmember Bill de Blasio thinks the DOE shouldn't lose any money.

“With education and public safety, we should make these two areas sacred and leave them out of the budget cuts this year,” he said. “We just can't afford to slide backwards as a city.”

However, “If there need to be some cuts, they absolutely need to come from Tweed, the consultants, the testing program,” de Blasio said. “They're large and absolutely less valuable than frontline services.”

James Dandridge, president of District 18's Community Education Council (CEC), has repeatedly suggested that the DOE fire its consultants and instead ask parents to offer input on how to improve schools.

“Who knows more about what's needed and necessary than the parents?” he said.

“You have parent leaders who are volunteering their time” to serve on CECs and parent associations, he continued. “If you don't acknowledge that and you push it to the side and you pay people to come from the outside to give what they think is the solution to the problem, it doesn't work.”

The DOE says it cut $230 million from the bureaucracy and redirected the funding to schools during the last two fiscal years.

At a recent meeting with the City Council, schools Chancellor Joel Klein reportedly agreed to consider decreasing his budget for press officers by 10 percent.

He also reportedly said the DOE is “probably as lean an operation as you could imagine.”

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