This year, the Education Department of New York City will see budget cuts of almost $550 million as part of a massive round of reductions mandated by Mayor Eric Adams for the entire city.
It is anticipated that many of the cuts will go into effect right away. They will cover a wide range of jobs and initiatives that have a direct impact on students, such as the well-liked Summer Rising program from the pandemic era, community schools that assist families with after-school needs, and the city’s extensive free preschool program.
A significant portion of this year’s savings will come from a halt in hiring and the removal of 432 open non-classroom positions, which officials announced on Thursday will save a total of $157 million.
Budget officials stressed cuts to central offices and other roles that support schools, but they did not say which roles would be eliminated. Since earlier this fall, there has been a hiring freeze; however, teaching positions are exempt. Officials from the Education Department did not immediately respond when asked if the organization would keep the teaching positions out of the freeze.
This year, a mandate to reduce spending on “supplemental pay for administrative staff” is anticipated to save an additional $86 million, though officials haven’t yet clarified what exactly that entails.
In September, Adams issued an order to all city agencies that, by November, would find savings equivalent to at least 5% of the city’s annual budgetary contribution. This was in response to what he considered to be unsustainable spending levels on the ongoing flood of asylum seekers. It is anticipated that there will be additional 5% cuts in January and spring of 2024.
All told, this implies that funding for the Education Department could be cut by up to $2.1 billion. The department’s overall budget for the current academic year is approximately $37.5 billion.
The centerpiece achievement of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the Universal Pre-K program, enrolled about 100,000 children in its third and fourth year this year. Starting with the upcoming fiscal year, the department will remove $120 million from the program.
The program has experienced enrollment drops during the pandemic and delays in paying child care providers.
There are roughly 37,000 open seats in the program, according to officials, but they did not say how many of those spots they intended to close.
Gregory Brender, the chief of policy and innovation at the Day Care Council of New York, a membership organization of child care providers, stated, “While we don’t know many details yet, there is no way a cut this large would not hurt the services available to children and families.”
Some long-running programs that are directly involved in schools are also going to see modest budget cuts.
This year, a $3.5 million initiative to increase computer science education will lose money, and community schools will see a $10 million budget cut. Another top priority of the de Blasio administration in terms of education was community schools, which have only gotten bigger under Adams.