The Department of Education played an unusually small role in the Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget announcement on Thursday, but the real situation may be more complex than what the mayor let on. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is famous for never looking stressed, but this year’s city budget does appear much better for the city's most expensive department.
"Don't I look less stressed already? I mean, I am less stressed already," said Walcott.
Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new budget, the Department of Education has no proposed teacher layoffs and expected increases in aid from both the city and the state.
"The city will spend less in virtually every major area of controllable spending except for education," said Bloomberg during his Thursday budget address.
The mayor called education the city's key long-term investment.
"We just have to reach into our pockets and make sure our kids have the future we want for them," said Bloomberg.
But the education budget may be more complicated than the mayor made it sound.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is indeed promising city schools an additional $238 million, but he says that money is contingent on the city and teachers' union implementing a new teacher evaluation system by the end of the year.
NY1 asked the mayor why the budget was assuming those funds were a sure thing.
"Ah, not — you know, the current legislation, my recollection is the governor passed a two-year budget and it's not going to be taken away no matter what," said Bloomberg.
His aides later acknowledged it could be taken away halfway into the next fiscal year, which would be a big hit to city schools.
There is also the issue of the 1,700-plus teachers who the mayor plans to remove from 33 struggling schools. But that does not save money. Those who do not find jobs at other schools would add tens of millions of dollars to the cost of the current substitute teacher pool, and the city would have to pay for teachers to replace them.
So while the education budget seems much less complicated this year, there are actually several major factors still to be worked out.
One notable phrase not spoken by the mayor this year was "Last In, First Out." With no teacher layoffs on the table, the mayor seems to have abandoned his campaign to change the state law requiring the newest teachers be laid off first.
For the past two years, fighting to change that policy had been a big part of Bloomberg's budget announcements, but he was never able to get Albany on board.