Monday, May 5

Education advocates ramp up pressure to restore school budgets

Last week, the mayor released the city's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Calling the numbers describing the city's fiscal situation "scary," Mayor Bloomberg preserved the sizable cuts slated for the schools. Education advocates have only until June, when the budget will be finalized, to reverse the cuts — so they have ramped up the intensity of the Keep the Promises Coalition, originally launched in February when the cuts were first announced.

Last week, the coalition held a rally at the Bronx Courthouse, revealing plans for a major advertising campaign, starting with a slick new radio spot. School funding advocates were successful in Albany, so we can hope they will find similar success closer to home.

For his part, the mayor continues to assert that the DOE will be receiving a sizable funding increase. But as Elizabeth Green at the Sun writes, he appears to be using fuzzy math to arrive at that conclusion:
The net amount the public schools are gaining, by Mr. Bloomberg's tally, does not account for losses the education department faced during this fiscal year and projected losses already tabulated into next year's budget. ...

Comparing the budget first implemented last year to this executive budget, the Department of Education's net change is a modest gain of about $56 million.

Considering that the cost of many programs grows larger every year — teacher salaries, slated to see a 5% raise this month, are a prime example — that increase will probably not be enough to spare the public schools from having to cut some programs and services.

What programs and services might principals cut? If this year is any guide, next year we can expect to see reductions in tutoring programs, after school activities, supplies purchased, and more.

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