Budget Agreement Poses Pink Slip Threat, Classroom Advocates Say
While the mayor and City Council restored hundreds of millions worth of cuts to the city's school budget Monday, education advocates and labor unions say the city is balancing its budget on the backs of school kids. NY1's Molly Kroon filed the following report.
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When Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a nearly $60 billion agreement Monday, not everyone was applauding -- namely the thousands of people working for the Department of Education in nonteaching positions who are worried they're going to lose their jobs.
"These are the individuals who do services so teachers can stay in the classroom and teach," said Local 372 President Veronica Montgomery Costa.
School aids, community workers and substance abuse specialists are now worried about pink slips.
The mayor's budget originally called for about $700 million in cuts to the city's schools. After negotiations, those cuts were reduced to about $388 million, although lawmakers warn details are still being ironed out.
"After school programs, art, music, staff are going to be laid off. We don't know the exact numbers, but it could be somewhere between two to 3,000 staff members," said City Councilman and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson.
A Department of Education spokesperson says no teachers will get laid off, although some teacher vacancies won't be filled.
The department has ordered school principals to cut nearly four percent out of their budgets for next year by this Thursday. But education advocates warn there's little left to cut without affecting the classroom.
"We're cutting into the bone of a system where the majority of kids don't graduate on time," said Geri Palast of Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
Councilman Jackson says he's hopeful more funding to schools will be restored, but with the city's balance sheet victim to the economic downturn, the mayor says there's just not enough money to go around.
Unions representing school employees say they're planning a rally at City Hall on Wednesday to protest the cuts.