Wednesday, February 15, 2023

What the Chancellor said on class size and raising the charter cap; & Mayor proposes to cut school budgets next year once again

 1. Last week, state education budget hearings were held, where many groups, advocates and organizations inveighed against the Governor's proposal to expand the cap on charter schools. Chancellor Banks also testified and was non-committal, saying it was up to the Mayor weigh in, But under questioning from Sen. Liz Krueger, he admitted that the city’s Office of Management budget had estimated the cost to the DOE of raising the cap was $1.3 billion - though he didn't mention how it could also deprive our public schools of the space needed to lower class size.

When questioned by Sen. John Liu, however, about the new class size reduction law, Banks complained that this would cost the DOE about a billion dollars. Liu pointed out that the DOE was receiving more than this amount from the state a result of the settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, so that it was hardly an unfunded mandate.

The Chancellor admitted that it would be difficult to meet the class size goals starting year three of the five-year phase in. He said that he would form a working group to help develop a class size reduction plan, something we’ve long proposed. Hopefully this group will include some of the many advocates, parents, and elected officials who have pushed for smaller classes, rather than the handful who opposed it.

2. I also submitted testimony, pointing out the many ways in which the DOE has undercut its ability to meet the benchmarks in the law, by cutting school funding, slashing the capital plan, and refusing to lessen enrollment in our most overcrowded schools. Contrary to the claims of the DOE, the Mayor's preliminary budget for next year would reduce school budgets once again – if not as radically as this year. Yet NYC schools should be receiving more funds, not less, to help them lower class size and restore services, especially as DOE is due to receive $568 million in additional CFE funds, and the IBO projects NYC will end fiscal year 2023 with an $4.9B surplus.

As for increasing the number of charter schools, you can join our email campaign urging your legislators to reject the proposal, or pass a resolution here.   I’ll be presenting the charter issue to CEC 15 tomorrow Thursday at 6:30 PM, and you can watch by logging into Zoom here.   If you’d like a similar presentation for your organization, please let me know.

thanks, Leonie

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