Walcott: Schools have `breathing room’


The budget for fiscal year 2013 promises to give more breathing room for the school system this time around, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told a City Council committee Tuesday.

Walcott said this follows a year of cuts in education funding. “In the end, I have been encouraged that our students’ progress has continued unabated, even as belts have tightened in recent years,” he said.

Robert Jackson, chairman of the Council Committee on Education, said he was pleased that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2013 did not propose layoffs as last year’s budget did. However, as enrollments and class sizes increased, air jordan 9 Jackson said that schools simply could not afford to lose more teachers.

“Year after year the DOE [Department of Education] has made cuts to school budgets, said Jackson (D-Manhattan). “… How are schools supposed to make do next year given the loss of funding proposed in this preliminary budget?”

The preliminary budget would keep funding relatively flat: an increase of $209.6 million, or 1 percent, over the adopted budget for the current year. But a City Council analysis noted that a $900 million increase would be needed to maintain the current service levels due to rising costs expected in fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1.

With sharp cuts in both state and city funding in fiscal year 2012, last year’s budget deal averted 4,100 teacher layoffs Bloomberg had sought. But thousands of teachers were lost under the deal because those who voluntarily gave up a job were not replaced.

“I think that we have really failed—you have really failed our children, the mayoral control has been a dismal failure,” Council member Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) said. After a decade of mayoral control, he added, the result is that “only 13 percent are prepared for college if they are black or Latino.”

Barron said that although funding was not being cut, the proposed budget was still bad for students. “If you leave somebody flat with the cost of everything going up, you’re actually cutting them,” he said.

Council member James Gennaro (D-Queens) called School District 24 in northwestern Queens one of the most overcrowded districts. Walcott agreed with him.

Council member Al Vann (D-Brooklyn) brought up last year’s controversial layoff of 646 school aides. “If you get the additional money from the state, I make a request that we find a mechanism to hire back those 646 school aides that were laid off last year,” he said. “They are still calling my office, looking for their job back.”

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