A judge temporarily blocked the city from proceeding any further with budget cuts to schools that lost enrollment.
The Friday afternoon ruling came in response to a lawsuit from parents who argue the city didn’t follow proper procedure in passing the city budget.
The temporary restraining order stops the city from further implementing the budget cuts and orders the Department of Education to spend at the levels outlined in the previous year’s budget, before the city enacted the cuts.
What You Need To Know
- A judge has temporarily blocked the city from proceeding any further with budget cuts to schools that lost enrollment
- The ruling is a response to a lawsuit from parents who argue the city didn’t follow proper procedure in passing the city budget
- A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Adams says the city plans to file a motion to vacate the order
The $215 million in cuts were included in the city’s initial budget roll-out in February. Schools are historically funded per student they serve and enrollment has declined sharply over the last three years.
But during the de Blasio administration, the city opted not to take away funding when schools lost students, instead using federal stimulus funding to keep their budget steady during the pandemic.
Adams’ budget phased that policy out and the cuts received little pushback until individual school budgets were released.
The $215 million in cuts translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars — sometimes a million dollars — in losses for individual schools.
That, in turn, meant schools could afford fewer teachers, resulting in those teachers being “excessed” from their schools and forced to apply for vacant positions elsewhere. Sometimes that meant losing a music or art program that the teacher ran.
Facing angry parents, City Council members began rallying against the cuts — even though the cuts were contained in a budget the City Council negotiated and approved.
A group of parents, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit arguing the process the city used to approve the budget violated state education law. That law requires the city’s Panel for Educational Policy, typically seen as a rubber stamp because most of its members are appointed by the mayor, to vote on the education budget before the City Council votes on it as part of the city budget.
But this year, the City Council adopted the budget first, with the chancellor invoking an emergency declaration to delay the panel’s vote until after the Council’s. The suit asks a judge to order a new vote on the budget.
The mayor’s office will seek to get the order thrown out.
“The budget was duly adopted by the City Council and is in accordance with all charter mandated protocols. We plan to file a motion to vacate on Monday,” spokeswoman Amaris Cockfield said in a statement.
The order comes as the City Council and Adams’ office were negotiating a deal to restore some of the cuts by moving money around in the education department’s budget.
A source told NY1 those negotiations had become deadlocked today, before this ruling, with the Adams administration asking the Council to agree in writing that future cuts would be necessary if enrollment keeps falling.