Department of Education headquarters at Tweed Courthouse
DOE headquarters at Tweed Courthouse

Who is getting fired and when? That’s the question on everyone’s mind at Tweed Courthouse today.

As Elizabeth already reported, as part of the mayor’s citywide budget cuts, the Department of Education is cutting 6.6 percent of its budget centrally and passing down 1.3 percent cuts to individual schools. That means 475 DOE jobs are going to be lost. The bulk of those jobs — nearly 300 — will be cut from the department’s central administration, housed at Tweed.

In a conversation with reporters outside City Hall this afternoon, Chancellor Joel Klein said he has already asked his senior leadership team — heads of departments and other top DOE officials — to identify positions they might eliminate. In addition, department officials are looking at “every program” to identify which are “less vital” or possible to streamline, he said.

No one has yet been fired, the chancellor said, but layoffs will begin within the next few days. All of the positions will be eliminated by the end of 2008.

DOE officials chose to make the majority of the department’s cuts centrally because doing so is in line with the DOE’s focus on children, who “didn’t create the current financial crisis,” the chancellor said.

Still, schools will lose 1.3 percent of their budgets for this school year.

Schools will see their funds disappear within the next two weeks, DOE spokeswoman Julia Levy told me. Making cuts won’t be easy for schools: Unlike last spring when many schools had some unallocated funds when budget cuts were announced, many schools have spent all of their money for this year already, Levy said, adding that department officials will “work with principals” to help them make cuts that they can accept.

This past spring, the City Council fought long and hard for the city to restore funds that had been pulled from schools’ budgets for this school year. Schools probably won’t be so lucky this time, the mayor said, noting that he anticipates a “lively discussion” from Council members when he discusses the budget cuts with them.