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March 31, 2009
Weingarten says CFE is a dream "deferred but not denied"
Some advocates are saying that the state budget betrays the hard-won Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, which declared the city schools need more money. But union president Randi Weingarten, a supporter of the case and the groups that filed it, is taking a different point of view. In a statement she just released, she declares that the state budget "reaffirms Albany's commitment" to the lawsuit. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, she says, "was deferred but not denied." The state budget erases two years of increases in funding that would have grown to more than $5 billion by 2011, postponing them until the future. Only 37.5% of the funds promised over a four-year period have been doled out so far. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity's executive director, Geri Palast, has repeatedly said that state lawmakers should give the city a "down payment" of funds for next year. Here's her full statement:
March 13, 2009
DOE: Lowering class size by 10% would cost "tens of billions"
Lowering class size by just a fraction of the degree sought by class-size reduction…
March 3, 2009
DOE says city will save from contract that went to a high bidder
The company that won the contract. Here’s a story from yesterday’s New York Post that escaped our attention: Yoav Gonen reports that the Department…
December 23, 2008
As city and state budgets are formed, principals wait to plan
Mayor Bloomberg presenting a budget update in November. In response to GothamSchools' survey about how schools plan to handle the budget cuts, several principals are saying they can't begin to speculate about what they'll slash because they don't know yet how much money they'll be losing. They won't find out for a while. Their first hint will come next month, when the city presents to the City Council its preliminary budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Principals will really be able to start planning for next year in the "late spring," DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte told me. The state's fiscal year begins April 1, so by then schools will know how much they're losing from the state and will also have a good idea of how much they'll receive in city funds. The process to arrive at the city's preliminary budget is underway now.
December 8, 2008
Taking aim at the DOE, City Council proposes more budget cuts
City Hall (via Flickr) Data specialists, new small schools, and empty seats in gifted programs could all go the way of cash bonuses to top-scoring schools if the City Council gets the budget cuts it wants. The Council is proposing $170 million in additional budget cuts, on top of the millions Mayor Bloomberg already suggested, in an attempt to preserve a $400 rebate to homeowners that the mayor says the city can't afford. Almost $80 million of the proposed cuts would come from the Department of Education, the largest amount from any single city agency. Nearly $40 million of that would be programs associated with the department's flagship Children First initiative, such as the school-based "inquiry teams" that analyze data about individual students. Other cuts would come in the form of delays, such as opening fewer schools each year and tabling plans to buy new data systems to manage enrollment and hiring information. And the proposal would require teachers to do jury duty on their own time, during the summer, so that schools won't have to pay for substitutes.
November 25, 2008
Campaign for Fiscal Equity's advice to Paterson: raise revenues
Lots of state education funding news today. First, Governor Paterson removed his proposal to enact mid-year cuts. From a letter he sent to school leaders today: While school aid reductions remain on the table, it is unlikely the Legislature will consider them any time soon. Therefore, we would be well into the final quarter of our fiscal year and even further into the school year before any action would likely occur. So mid-year is off the table, but Paterson says that means cuts next year will have to be much worse; the state simply cannot afford to ramp up school spending as it had been doing, he wrote. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity has already pushed out a response to this letter. The group, which led the 14-year-long lawsuit asking for more funding for New York City schools, asks Paterson to find ways to raise revenues before cutting budgets. One idea is to raise income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers. The full letter is below the jump, and for a review of all planned budget cuts, see my cheat sheet here.
November 25, 2008
Squeezing lemonade (lemon-aid?) out of budget cut lemons
Writing at the Huffington Post, former Gates Foundation honcho Tom Vander Ark suggests a radical response to education budget cuts that could actually gain traction in New York City: While far from easy, states with courageous governors could use this crisis to make a radical change: cut the budget by 10% and send the money directly to schools. Every school would get a three year performance contract (i.e., charter) and would be required to join a support network (which could include what used to be a school district, a university, a non-profit like New Tech Foundation, a charter management organization like Green Dot, a for-profit like Edison Learning, or a self-organized coop). New York City schools already get to choose exactly how much bureaucratic support they want by selecting from a menu of support organizations, and paying the fee the organization (Empowerment? New Visions? Knowledge Network?) charges. What if a school could also select a new menu option: no bureaucracy at all?
November 21, 2008
Planning ahead for the budget cuts: Three ideas from a veteran
The City Council is about to review planned education cuts, but even if the Bloomberg administration is forced to make revisions, principals should absolutely plan for tighter days ahead. That will be difficult for the obvious reasons (who likes to spend less?) but also for this one: Many of today's principals have never led through a downturn. Earlier this week, I talked to a man who has: Eric Nadelstern, the head of the Empowerment network of schools and a Bronx principal from 1985 to 2000, a period that included a sharp fiscal downturn of about two years. In the last several months, Nadelstern has been offering advice to Empowerment principals on how to cut their budgets without making a dent in educational programming. He shared three pieces of advice with me:
November 20, 2008
City Council to examine proposed school budget cuts tomorrow
When the City Council scrutinizes the Department of Education's planned budget cuts tomorrow (at a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m.) members might want to have aspirin on hand. That's because, like the budget itself, the department's Power Point presentation of the cuts it has identified would give even the most seasoned analyst a headache. The image above is just one page of the dizzying document. The cuts are divided into five "buckets," ranging from the central administration to District 75, the city's district for severely disabled students. How deeply schools and students are actually going to feel the mid-year cuts isn't at all clear, nor is it clear exactly how the proposed cuts add up to the $185 million the mayor asked the DOE to cut from its budget by Nov. 21. Some questions, among many, that education committee members might ask:
November 13, 2008
$3.6 billion to fully fund English Language Learners, study finds
Students who are still learning English need twice as much funding as other students, says a policy brief released yesterday by the New York Immigration Coalition. The brief was based on a new, as-yet-unreleased study the Coalition commissioned from research and advocacy organization Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy, Inc. (META). At present, funding for English Language Learners (ELLs) is approximately 1.5 times that of regular education students. While the brief does not say how much additional funding the state should provide per pupil, EdWeek blogger Mary Ann Zehr estimated it at about $6,500 more for each ELL student than what is spent today. Adding that much per student would be expensive. The study calculates that New York State would have to spend a total of $3.64 billion on ELLs, about 17% of total state aid to schools. This sounds like a lot given looming state budget cuts, but the brief's authors say it's reasonable.
November 13, 2008
Making sense of budget cuts: How much will go and when?
An annoying thing about budget cuts is that, in addition to being hands-down, no-question bad news, they are also usually completely obscure to the average human brain. How much will be cut? From whom? Starting when? There are so many unknowns that even paid budget experts have trouble explaining it. Here are six things we do know, after the jump:
November 10, 2008
New York City a straggler in getting state's spending approval
New York State Education Building New York City is one of just three cities that has not yet gotten approval for its plan for…
November 5, 2008
Early reactions to mayor's budget plan: Cautious optimism
Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers union, and Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, are usually hard on Mayor Bloomberg when it comes to education budget cuts. But because the majority of school cuts announced today will come from the Department of Education's central bureaucracy, not individual schools, they have both issued cautiously optimistic responses to today's budget announcement. Weingarten's and Gotbaum's full responses after the jump. UPDATE: Maybe this will turn out to be a budget fight. The principals' union president, Ernest Logan, just came out with a statement, and it's more confrontational than Weingarten's. Weingarten said she is looking forward to working with the mayor; Logan says firmly that he opposes a mid-year cut. "Forcing another mid-year cut will hinder the progress we have made thus far," he said. And he adds: "Let’s be clear - CSA is committed to standing up for the children of this city and will continue to fight for what’s right."
November 5, 2008
At Tweed, people wonder who will be fired and when
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.
November 5, 2008
Bloomberg to Tweed: Cut 475 positions, for a 6.5% cost reduction
Philissa is at City Hall covering the mayor’s budget announcement, and we already have some early details on exactly what Bloomberg is suggesting the Education…
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