New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks isn’t new to the city’s public schools. But he was surprised by something when he took the top job this year.
“The number one thing that I did not fully anticipate as I came on becoming chancellor was the lack of parent engagement – and the way that parents feel disrespected, unheard, not having a seat at the table,” Banks said.
What You Need To Know
- New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks joined NY1's "News All Day" for a one-on-one conversation about his time on the job so far
- Banks says he understands budget cuts will be difficult on schools next fall, but he feels that the cuts are necessary
- He also offered insight into why some students have been carrying weapons to school
In an interview on NY1’s News All Day, Banks said he’s trying to change that, meeting with parent groups around the city.
And as schools that are losing enrollment are facing steep budget cuts for the fall, Banks says he wants principals to know he hears them, too.
“If you have to lose a teacher or a program, that doesn’t feel good, and it’s not good for kids and I certainly understand that, and I want them to know that – but I also know that our principals know how to make adjustments,” Banks said.
Banks says he’ll be there to support those principals. But he says it’s not feasible to continue funding schools as if they haven't lost students.
“I was just talking to a school today who went from having 300 kids to having now about 45 students that are actually coming in this year. It’s a dramatic loss of students, so I can’t give them the same budget they would have had otherwise,” he said.
Banks also discussed the number of weapons found in city schools during the wide-ranging interview.
“We’ve seen a very significant increase of students bringing weapons to schools, [but] not necessarily using them in schools,” he said.
Instead, the students are carrying them for defense on their way to and from school.
Banks says he’s working with community groups on coming up with ways to help keep students safe.
“It’s not about more uniform officers. It’s about really getting those credible messengers from the communities who can really come in and get involved,” he said.
Looking ahead, the city is set to launch two new virtual academies for ninth graders this fall – students can apply through July 6.
“We’ve heard from a lot of families who said, 'my child actually did well virtually and performed and academically it worked out really well, [so] why can’t they continue to go to school virtually?'" Banks said.
The academies will serve two-hundred ninth graders – and be what Banks called labs of innovation, providing best practices should all schools ever have to go remote again.
And while school is out for the summer, 110,000 children will be in classrooms for Summer Rising, the optional summer school program that began on Tuesday.
“They’re going to be engaged in all kinds of academically rigorous experiences in the early part of the day – and in the second part of the day they’re going to have a lot of fun,” he said.