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NYC mayor Eric Adams defends shrinking NYC school budgets by $215M

Mayor Eric Adams insisted on Monday that his decision to shrink New York City public school budgets by $215 million due to lower enrollment doesn’t count as a “cut.”

“This is not a cut and people should be honest,” Adams said during an appearance on Fox 5’s Good Day New York. “Some people who are talking about this are being disingenuous. This is not a cut.”

Teachers and advocates have pushed back against shrunken allocations, which tie school budgets across the city to enrollment for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A series of rallies were held Monday at local schools and another was planned for Monday evening outside City Hall ahead of the municipal budget vote.

The City Council is expected to green light the controversial plan when members vote on the budget.

A handshake deal on Friday confirmed that the blow to individual school budgets was anticipated to go through, even though the line item had been a sticking point between Adams and the council in the final week of negotiations.

Mayor Eric Adams announced a budget agreement at City Hall.
Steven Hirsch

“We did not cut the budget for public schools,” said Adams. “We reallocated the money based on the student population.”

“Nothing is more dysfunctional than paying for something that when you decrease the numbers, you have to readjust based on the number of students you have,” he added.

City public schools have lost some 120,000 students over the last five years, according to the Department of Education.

During the coronavirus pandemic, however, the city paused tying individual school budgets to enrollment and used COVID relief funds to help fill in gaps. But since those federal funds are drying up, the administration proposed going back to adjusting budgets based on the amount of students in each school.

The initial cuts this budget season totaled $375 million, but to soften the shock, some of that loss was backfilled with $160 million in federal cash, The Post has reported. The city will use $80 million from the American Rescue Plan to pad school budgets in 2023.

Mayor Eric Adams picks up a violin with student orchestra at entrance of PS 169.
Mayor Eric Adams picks up a violin with student orchestra at entrance of PS 169.
Robert Miller

The mayor noted that if enrollment numbers go up, “we’re going to put more money into the student population, into the schools, appropriately.”

He said that dollars sent to schools serving kids struggling on state tests, learning English or those with disabilities, will be maintained at 100%.

Meanwhile, teachers and families in Brooklyn made a last-ditch attempt to delay the City Council vote at a protest Monday morning attended by Adams’ predecessor Bill de Blasio.

The former mayor-turned-congressional candidate, who has previously touted his good relationship with Adams, joined protesters at P.S. 58 The Carroll School in Carroll Gardens.

At nearby M.S. 839 in Kensington, students held a morning walkout and chants like “hey hey ho ho budget cuts have got to go” could be overheard.

“We need to have a full budget for our school. This is a budget cut, no matter what the mayor says,” said Oliver Cannel, a seventh grade teacher at the school, where a teacher-led rally was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“As we are coming out of this year that has been so challenging for so many reasons, the prospect of losing faculty, of class sizes going up, of losing enrichment programs, is not acceptable for our community,” he added.

Advocates and principals have warned that teachers may have to be let go if the cuts go through.

They also warned that class sizes will increase, and that after-school programs in the arts and sports teams are at risk of cuts too.

Additional reporting by Sam Raskin.

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