New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks today announced additional flexibility of existing funding for schools for the upcoming school year.
Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks are allowing schools more flexibility to use $100 million in federal stimulus-funded academic recovery funds and are simultaneously making available up to approximately $50 million in funds reserved for school budget appeals and adjustments — with $34 million in school budget appeals being sent to schools today.
“As two former New York City public school students ourselves, Chancellor Banks and I know there is nothing more important than providing the children in our public schools the resources they need to learn, grow, and thrive. The truth is that the city is facing a 120,000 drop in student enrollment, which had clear budget implications since February when the preliminary budget was released,” said Mayor Adams. “We always said we would meet the needs of our students, and after hearing from principals and other community leaders that they need additional time to adjust to the decline in enrollment, we are announcing greater flexibility in this year’s school budget by granting immediate access to existing academic recovery funding up to $100 million and immediately granting up to $50 million in the budget appeal process. To be clear, this is not new money but a reallocation of existing funds. We are committed to providing every available resource to our students. Still, we also must acknowledge the changing conditions that so many are unwilling to recognize and, just as importantly, that there is no hidden pool of city money or additional federal stimulus funds, as has been previously inaccurately reported, that we can tap. We will continue to fight for additional resources from our federal and state partners, but if we don’t get those additional funds, the truth is we are in for harder times ahead. This isn’t a problem we can solve alone, but one that we must work to solve it together.”
“We have said from day one that enrollment in our public school system is a major concern that has a negative impact on our school systems’ funding. We initially provided $160 million to schools to support the transition to their lower enrollment levels, but our students deserve leadership that can act both responsibly and flexibly to meet their needs,” said DOE Chancellor Banks. “After listening to our school leaders, educators, and, most importantly, our families — we are moving forward with providing additional flexibility and making available the funds we have access to. This will help schools continue to serve our students as we work to transition to new enrollment levels. We must still focus on reversing enrollment declines by winning back families, but that does not mean we cannot act today to provide more relief to our schools.”
The American Rescue Plan (ARP-ESSER) provided school districts with funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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As part of New York City’s ‘Academic Recovery Plan,’ money was allocated to schools based on the number of students in foster care, students in the shelter, students in temporary housing, students who are English Language Learners (ELL), newcomer and long-term ELLs, students with interrupted/inconsistent formal education, students with disabilities, and students with economic need.
At the school level, these funds were previously earmarked for specific academic purposes, like after-school tutoring, but — because they are temporary funds — were not permitted to be used on staff. DOE has lifted those restrictions and is allowing $100 million of these funds to be used for general staffing in order to give schools the option to retain staff who otherwise were being excessed to other schools, or hire other staff.
Every year the DOE puts aside money to address budget appeals and adjustments. This money ensures that the DOE can meet the needs of schools as they arise over the summer and into the fall.
Appeals funding is distributed based on the financial condition of each school compared to schools of a similar size and considers additional criteria such as unique conditions at each school.
Due to ongoing litigation concerning the city’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget and an accompanying temporary restraining order in an ongoing lawsuit, this appeals funding was held.
With the new school year approaching, the city has directed the immediate release of up to approximately $50 million set aside for appeals to schools. Of those funds, $34 million in appeals funding has already been released.
This sum is larger than in previous years in recognition of the uncertainty many schools are facing due to pandemic-related disruptions.
Photo credit: 1) Eric Adams. 2) Chancellor Banks.