The UFT Contract will expire in September of 2022. When whoever is elected mayor claims that there is no money for educator and other city employee raises or expanded benefits, show them the final 2022 budget Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council agreed to yesterday. This is from the Mayor's News account on his Recovery Budget:
Building on Strong Reserves
Before New York City became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, the City had maintained record levels of budget reserves that were needed in the midst of the pandemic induced financial crisis to help balance the budget, prevent layoffs, and avoid disastrous cuts to critical programs and services. In Adoption the administration partnered with the City Council to add $500 million to the City’s first-ever Rainy Day Fund, which now holds nearly $1 billion. With $2.8 billion in reserves added since June, total reserves in FY22 are now $5.1 billion, with $3.8 billion in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust, $993 million in the Rainy Day Fund, and $300 million in the General Reserve. At their highest, NYC reserves totaled $6.1 billion at the peak of the economic cycle in Fiscal Year 2020.
Call it reserves or surplus or whatever you want. Any way you refer to it, the city has plenty of money again as it did before the pandemic. Extra federal money won't expire until 2024 according to what I read in ChalkbeatNY. If we examine the allocation for the New York City school system, the poverty argument is going to be very difficult to make in the next three years. This is from the Chalkbeat piece on the city's education final budget:
Many budget figures weren’t immediately available. However, officials confirmed that the education department’s spending would increase by $2.4 billion year-over-year. That would put the total budget for the nation’s largest school system at $31.6 billion.
When starting the budget process in January, de Blasio initially shared a pessimistic outlook for schools if the federal government and state didn’t send more money to New York City. But now, the city is flush with nearly $7 billion in federal coronavirus relief dollars for schools and another $1.3 billion in state aid.
That adds up to an extra $8.3 billion in federal and state funding. A small portion of that additional money should make it to the classroom as schools will be funded at 100% fair student funding. Back to Chalkbeat:
More money for school budgets
The bulk of money schools get to run their day-to-day operations, such as teacher salaries and services for students with disabilities, comes from a formula known as fair student funding. This year, for the first time, every school will get 100% of the dollars they’re entitled to receive under the city’s fair student funding formula. About three-quarters of schools previously did not get their full allotment and will now see boosts.
“Now, they will have money to hire new teachers, art, music, gym, you name it,” said Brooklyn Councilman Mark Treyger, chair of the City Council’s education committee, during the budget press conference Wednesday.
It will cost the city a total $605 million next fiscal year, plus another $140 million to cover fringe benefits and pension costs, according to the Independent Budget Office.
That's not even $1 billion going directly to school budgets out of an additional $8.3 billion. What about the remainder?
It isn't going to lower class sizes except for a tiny amount. Again to Chalkbeat:
The City Council proposed a $250 million investment to reduce class size. Instead, the city is planning an $18 million pilot program for smaller classes, though officials declined to share details about what it would involve. A department spokesperson said more details would be shared “in the coming days.”
Reducing class size has been a perennial issue. This year, as social distancing required small classes, many families and educators saw benefits of having fewer children in a classroom, and many believe that small classes are critical again next year since children will likely have a range of needs and could be at widely different levels academically. Advocates were hopeful that the billions in federal and state dollars could support such an initiative.
This final investment is a “piddling amount of money,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of the advocacy organization Class Size Matters.
“I think this is a very sad end to a mediocre mayoral record when it comes to our schools,” Haimson said. “He could have easily funded that out of the $8 billion [in federal and state money].”
The city will also invest in hiring school social workers but in the end, only heaven above knows where the bulk of that extra $8.3 billion is going to end up.
For example, Chalkbeat covered academic recovery:
‘Academic recovery’ — with few details
The final budget will include an “academic recovery” plan after children lost out on instructional time in the classroom: all students spent about a third of the 2019-2020 school year fully remote, and more than 60% finished out the following school year learning exclusively from home.
The mayor had proposed spending $500 million on helping students catch up by giving students diagnostic tests when they return this fall to measure their English and math skills. Students will then get extra support, such as high-dosage tutoring, to catch up on those subjects where they are below grade level.
But many questions remain unanswered, including what the diagnostic tests will be, what sort of extra support will be available for students, and who will provide tutoring. Aside from some details revealed during a City Council budget hearing in May, city officials have declined to offer more specifics. In response to questions from Chalkbeat, an education department spokesperson said more information would be shared “in the coming days.”
What does information is coming soon mean? Here is our brief very educated guess:
If any organization can squander billions of dollars in new federal and state money with little that has to do with actually educating students, it's the New York City Department of Education. Expect very little assistance in the actual classrooms.
The UFT is claiming victory in this budget. Below are the figures from the Union's article on the final budget. Add it all up and it comes to around $800 million in spending. That's less than 10% of the extra $8.3 billion the city is receiving for education from the federal and state governments. Is the UFT even asking questions about the remainder?