Seven billion dollars in federal funding helped prop up the city’s public school system as it was recovering from the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • The city has been using temporary federal stimulus funding to pay for long-term needs, such as school social workers and special education pre-K seats

  • But the funding is set to expire this summer, and there's no other money in place to fill the gaps

  • Advocates warn it will mean vital programs are either cut or eliminated entirely

The money is temporary, but officials have used some of it to pay for long-term needs. Now, it’s set to disappear.

“The dollars we’re talking about are largely temporary federal dollars but these are investments that the state and the city should have been making all along,” Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, said.

The expiring federal dollars, coupled with $700 million in city education budget cuts, will mean a slew of education programs are rolled back or eliminated.

In a press briefing Wednesday, the Emergency Coalition to Save Education Programs, made up of organizations that work with children, outlined some of the funding that is at stake: $263 million for pre-K and 3-K, $96 million for preschool special education, $77 million for community schools, $67 million for school social workers, $17 million for bilingual programs and translation services, $12 million for 100 shelter-based community coordinators and more.

In the case of pre-K and 3-K seats, that $263 million cut includes $96 million in disappearing federal funds and $170 million in city budget cuts.

“A parent who doesn’t have access to 3-K doesn’t care if they lost the seat because of federal, state, city funding,” Levine said.

Advocates say it won’t only mean pre-K and 3-K can’t continue to expand — the programs will lose seats.

“It’s not going to just be a loss of seats that didn’t exist, it will impact programs that are already in existence,” Shelby Lohr, policy analyst at the Daycare Council of New York, said.

Advocates said they hoped the state would step up to help, but a change in the funding formula in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget will mean $130 million less in funding for city schools.

While Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday he would scrap plans for further budget cuts next month, that won’t do anything to save these programs from the chopping block.

“While we are relieved to hear that there’s not another cut we need to navigate through, this still doesn’t solve the major issue that the city has around these expiring federal funds that we have yet to hear from the admin on how we’re going to solve this problem,” Annie Minguez Garcia, vice president of government and community relations at Good Shepherd Services, said.