City Council hearings and CSM testimony on prelim FY13 education budget; more cuts to schools and larger class sizes next year?
Yesterday the NYC Council Education committee held preliminary hearings on the mayor’s proposed education operating budget. Here is a good report from NY1, here is the analysis of the budget by Council staff; here is my testimony [also shown below]. The proposed operating budget for next year, despite an overall increase in spending, would cut schools by another $64 million, with $182 million cut to general education instruction alone, leading to a projected loss of 2,570 teachers and even higher class sizes in the future. Meanwhile, the contract budget is projected to grow even fatter, to $4.7 billion.
Many Council Members focused on teacher attrition and the effects on class size. The DOE responded that class size increases were not their fault, but the effect of the recession, the choices of empowered principals, and anyway, they weren’t sure that class size mattered. [See my testimony for rebuttals on all these points.] Other topics included the ballooning contract budget, the cost and damaging impact of small schools and co-located charters, the lack of college readiness of NYC students, and whether mayoral control can finally be deemed a failure or success after ten years.
Another issue of concern was how the DOE seems still o be unable to obtain federal Medicaid reimbursement for special services, having already lost out on more than a billion dollars in funds since 2005, which would have helped offset the rising cost of special education. The latest update is that while the city projected in this year’s budget Medicaid reimbursement of about $117 M, so far they have only submitted claims for about $25 million for “case management services” from prior years and have not yet submitted any new claims. Education Chair Robert Jackson was especially concerned about where funds to fill this gap might be found. Walcott pledged to avoid further cuts to schools.
Though Chancellor Walcott kept repeating that in the final proposed budget, he expects school budgets to be flat rather than cut, even a flat budget would still likely to lead to a sharp loss in general education teachers and continued class size increases, since the costs of programs go up each year, as well as the number of special education students with mandated class sizes and services that schools have to fulfill. We have seen a sharp fall in the number of general ed teachers in recent years, with over 2,000 lost last year alone – and according to our estimates, more than 10,000 such positions eliminated since 2007. For a more detailed, blow-by-blow account of the hearings, see the NYC parent blog here.