City Schools Chancellor David Banks trekked to Albany on Thursday —begging for more cash to plug education budget holes during testimony ahead of a joint legislative committee analyzing education policy in the context of New York state’s 2024 budget proposal.
What You Need To Know
- Schools Chancellor David Banks traveled to Albany Thursday to advocate for more funding for the city's school system and an extension of mayoral control
- Banks said help is needed thanks to a drop in federal stimulus dollars, multi-million dollar cuts in Mayor Eric Adams’ own city budget and in order to satisfy a new law forcing smaller class sizes across all city schools
- Both Adams and Banks have slammed the class size law ever since Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it in 2022, arguing it's an unfunded mandate imposed on the city
Banks said help is needed thanks to a drop in federal stimulus dollars, multi-million dollar cuts in Mayor Eric Adams’ own city budget and in order to satisfy a new law forcing smaller class sizes across all city schools.
“I think you’ve done a great job as the head of the NYC school system,” said Queens Democrat state Sen. John Liu, who also chairs the chamber’s committee on New York City Education.
But then he grilled Banks over the city Department of Education’s slow implementation of the class size law.
“Tell us that you are going to be in compliance and you have to start taking actions now. You can’t wait until year three to finally say, ‘You know what, now we are going to finally make tradeoffs.’”
Both Adams and Banks have slammed the class size law ever since Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it in 2022, arguing it’s an unfunded mandate imposed on the city. The law is slated to be fully phased in through fiscal year 2027 to 2028.
The state Education Department temporarily withheld funding last year from the NYCDOE for slow implementation.
“We’ve got to hire another 10,000 to 12,000 teachers in order for us to be in compliance and we are estimating that and IBO is estimating that it’ll cost close to $1 to 1.5 billion dollars in order for us to do that,” said Banks.
It’s spurred a head-on collision with the powerful teachers’ union, which backs the law and is already suing Adams over citywide budget cuts.
“If you ask me, I say this as part of them building a case so that they comply with the law of class size — so that a year from now, when they get to do the review process. They’re going to try to prove they don’t have the money,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, testified Thursday in Albany after Banks.
“We have a billion dollars in programming for community schools for 3-K that is really critical and we want to protect as much of that as possible,” said Emma Vadehra, chief operating officer for the DOE. “Going forward, we also have our asylum seeking families, who we are glad and proud to welcome into our schools are new students coming in who we also need to provide support for. So we really have a series of needs, even as we’re talking about actually reducing the amount of state aid we expected to get this year as we look ahead.”
Banks said he needs state dollars to keep some key programs afloat — even as Hochul is looking to cut education funding statewide.
He’s also reduced the NYCDOE’s staff headcount to find savings.
Then there’s convincing lawmakers to grant Adams a longer lease on his near-absolute power over the city’s vast public school system.
It comes as the state education department is holding citywide hearings as to whether that power, called mayoral control, should be scrapped, amended or extended.
“They probably will wait for that report. That’s everything that we’re hearing and they should. Yeah, I think they should,” Banks told reporters after he testified.
Although, Hochul said she’s game to grant the mayor another four years.
It’ll take more time to get Liu on board.
“The governor included it as part of her budget proposal, which actually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that mayoral control of NYC public schools is not affected by the budget of the state of New York. And has no bearing on the budget itself,” said Liu.
Adams will also travel to Albany next week to make his case in person to state lawmakers.