There’s been plenty of talk about the education department’s budget over the last year. But some students say not enough of it included them.
“Our voices, the students of NYC, were missing from these rallies,” said Leah Ali, a student at Bard High School Early College. “We are the ones bearing the brunt of the budget cuts and this is why it’s so important that we’ve come together today at the gates of City Hall to let Mayor Adams and the City Council know that we want them to restore the cuts that they approved, and to additionally commit to never making such cuts to the NYC public school system,”
A small group of students walked out of class to rally against cuts in the budget that was adopted last June — and to urge the city to restore them in the new budget it began considering today.
What You Need To Know
- A group of students walked out of class and rallied outside City Hall Thursday to protest cuts to school budgets
- Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled his preliminary budget — and walked back plans to cut $80 million more in funding to schools to help them adjust to lower enrollment
- But the cuts from last year will remain in place, leading some students to say Adams hadn’t gone far enough
The cuts were due in part to declining enrollment across the city — schools are funded per pupil. But during the pandemic, as enrollment plunged, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio used stimulus funds to offset the loss of students, keeping school budgets steady.
Mayor Eric Adams began phasing that policy out last year.
While he provided $160 million in temporary support to offset some of the enrollment losses, the end result was still a net cut of $469 million, according to the comptroller’s office. That forced some schools to reduce the number of teachers or programs in their buildings, at a time when students say schools need more support, not less.
“The pandemic has had unprecedented consequences for our learning. COVID-19 has greatly harmed out education. So now is not the time for the Adams administration to cut the public school’s budget,” said Judah Firestone-Morrill, another student at Bard High School Early College.
The cuts were slated to get deeper. Adams had said he planned to cut that temporary support in half, to $80 million, in the next fiscal year. But Thursday, in his preliminary budget, Adams announced he’d leave the funding at $160 million, essentially keeping last year’s cuts in place, but not cutting further.
Some students were unimpressed.
“I don’t think it’s enough,” said Sophia Grassotti, a student at Professional Performing Arts School. “I think the fact that they cut money in the first place is still really detrimental, even if they’re not cutting all of it. The fact that they’re cutting money at all is still going to have the negative impact”
The budget is far from final. The City Council will hold hearings and negotiate with the mayor, and a final budget will likely be adopted in June.