Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Yesterday's Council hearings on their resolution urging the Mayor to restore the budget cuts to schools

See excerpts in the NBC News story above from yesterday's hearings on the Council resolution, demanding the Mayor restore $469 million in Fair Student Funding cuts to schools.  

You can also check out Comptroller Brad Lander's written testimony, pointing out that 1- DOE has  $600 million in unspent federal funds from last year rolled into this year's budget that could be used to restore these cuts; 2- and there's an extra $800 million in city tax revenue not reflected in the adopted city budget, that will bring the city's reserve fund to $10 billion -- the largest ever.  

He also called for the need for long term and short term planning, and suggested that it could be more important to sustain the smaller classes and existing important programs from last year that were so beneficial to students than to expand or create new programs, including expanded 3K.  The video of the proceedings is here.

Class Size Matters' testimony is here, along with an updated analysis showing that DOE cuts to schools' Galaxy budgets as of August 21, 2022 totaled nearly $1.3 billion dollars. 

More specifically, 1,514 schools saw cuts, while only 68 saw increases. Those schools that were cut experienced an average cut of $865,182, or about 10.6% of their budgets. Those schools that saw increases had an average increase of $309,994, or 6.4% of their budgets.

In my testimony, I also critiqued the Fair Student Funding formula, and showed how it incentivizes large classes and the potential growth of the expensive and wasteful Absent Teacher Reserve. You can check out the cuts to your own school's Galaxy budget on our spreadsheet here: Galaxy cuts as of 8.21.22

See also the written testimony from Paul Trust, teacher, parent and plaintiff in the budget cuts lawsuit, and from parent Christianna Nelson

If you'd like to provide your own comments on these cuts to the Council, you can email it to testimony@council.nyc.gov until Thursday at 12:30 PM. If you would like to share it with others as well, please info@classsizematters.org and we will post it on our blog.  Thanks! 



Parent Christianna Nelson testifies about how the small classes last year benefited her child but how the "terrible cuts" will undermine her school

Eloquent testimony from parent Christianna Nelson at yesterday's City Council hearing on the school budget cuts.  If anyone else would like us to share their testimony, please send it to us at info@classsizematters.org.

Hello, my name is Christianna Nelson. Thank you very much for holding this hearing today. I hope that you decide to restore these terrible cuts to public education. I’m here to speak as a mom about how these cuts are affecting the students in my daughter’s school. My daughter attends Arts & Letters 305 United in Bed Stuy, a lottery school that offers 40 percent of its seats to children who qualify for school lunch assistance. 

It's a beautiful school filled with dedicated educators and parents, and a diverse student body. It has actually increased its enrollment over the last two years, but it's still losing 17 percent of its budget--a drop of $1.5 million dollars. That means larger classes, fewer counselors, less art and music, fewer classroom supplies (and parents are already donating a lot of supplies). It's a slap in the face to educators, students and parents, who have suffered through two very difficult years. 

My daughter is actually a pandemic success story. She has a visual disability and an IEP. Since kindergarten, in addition to her vision services, she has required physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling and she needs to be in an ICT classroom with two teachers. This year, with smaller class sizes, she was able to get more of the individual support she needed, and she experienced huge growth, academically and emotionally. 

At the end of the year, her team decided that she no longer needs physical therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling, and that she also no longer needs to be in an ICT classroom. 

My daughter has a very passionate, knowledgeable and devoted team of teachers and specialists. They showed up every day of this pandemic, often at risk to their own health (and many of them have children of their own), to help my daughter learn and grow. And now, instead of rewarding their hard work and supporting them, you're asking them to do more with less. It's immoral. It's plain wrong. And it needs to be fixed. Today. 

These cuts are not good for students, they're not good for teachers, and they're not good for New York City. I'm begging you to reverse these cuts. Let’s take the time and effort to plan and budget long term together, with real, meaningful input from educators, who are in the room, and parents, whose children are in the room--not overnight in one fell swoop. Restore the cuts! Thank you very much.