UPDATED: With Historic Budget, City Schools to Spend Over $24.8 Billion Next Year
Almost eleven years since the mayor's office took over control of New York City schools, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced Tuesday that the city will spend more than $24.8 billion next year on education -- the largest schools budget in city history.
New York City's School Chancellor Dennis Walcott made the announcement during his budget testimony before the City Council's Education and Finance Committees.
Walcott said while the additional funding is mostly due to a decrease in state educational aid, the DOE has also cut administrative costs to put more resources in the classroom for 2014.
“Our investments have made what was once an archaic school system into a 21st century model for the rest of the nation," Walcott said in in his written testimony. "Never before in city history have our schools had an administration so committed to funding our schools while cutting out waste in the bureaucracy."
But City Councilman Robert Jackson, the chair of the Education Committee, said the increased spending is nothing to brag about, "Of course they are spending more money than they have ever spent before. That is normal when you talk about increases in salaries, or when you talk about the increase in the number of students attending New York City public schools."
Jackson said he's concerned with cuts to individual school budgets, and a reduction in projected federal Medicaid reimbursements for students with disabilities.
The FY14 budget includes an additional $13 million for 314 of the city’s most underperforming schools. The DOE will also invest millions of dollars to expand a literacy program for middle school students, and add 4,000 pre-k seats. The DOE will also invest $100 million to train teachers on new Common Core Standards.
Mona Davids, the President of the N-Y-C Parents Union, attended Tuesday’s committee hearing. Davids said she’s skeptical an increase in funds will improve standards, since that hasn’t been the case in the past, "We still have a majority of our students that are not reading at state standards, who are not reading at grade level, who are not college ready." Davids adds that less money should be spent on outside consultants to train and oversee school principles.
Hearings on the education budget continue Wednesday with public comment and testimony from the teacher's union.