Earlier this week, Leonie Haimson commented on a post about the budget showdown that "no one believes that $200 million is going to be cut centrally." During this challenging week, I've really tried to give the DOE the benefit of the doubt, but all the evidence certainly does point that way. As Haimson noted over at the NYC Public School Parents blog, the budget the chancellor presented to the City Council on Tuesday reflected a $12 million central cut that will be achieved in large part by putting in place a hiring freeze at the DOE; it also reflected serious inconsistencies and underbudgeting that advocates have been noting since the budget was released several weeks ago.
After Council members and advocates demanded a closer accounting, the chancellor released a more detailed list of how he plans to free up the $200 million. Elizabeth Green at the Sun wrote yesterday that the list says the DOE plans to reduce the number of staff positions by 187 (which strikes me as unlikely to be achieved in one year through attrition), defer the introduction of a new social studies curriculum (testing related to a new science curriculum was also put off earlier this year), and stop paying for some of schools' computer repair costs. Nearly 15 percent of the central cuts could affect schools directly, Green reported. And now today, the Post notes that "nearly half" of the proposed central cuts were achieved by lowering cost estimates for various products and services — probably by finding someone who can do what's needed for even lower than the lowest bid, which can't be good for actually getting the job done well.
My head is spinning. The only way I can see sense being made of the whole situation is if the mayor frees up enough money to eliminate budget cuts for the DOE and its schools.