By Paul Liotta | [email protected]
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The New York City Council passed a resolution Tuesday calling for Mayor Eric Adams and the Department of Education to fully restore $469 million in school budget cuts.
All three of Staten Island’s City Councilmembers — City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), City Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island) and City Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore) — voted in favor of the resolution.
“I think this vote’s an easy yes for all of us to make,” Borelli said. “Certainly, we all support putting more money in the classrooms.”
The Republican leader pointed out that the cuts, which passed as part of the city budget earlier this year, was the result of a decline in enrollment that was only exacerbated during the pandemic.
During the school year that ended in 2016, New York City schools saw an enrollment of 1,049,335 students, but that number shrank to 1,007,610 students during the school year that ended in 2021, according to numbers maintained by the state Education Department.
Advocates have repeatedly called on the mayor to restore the funding, but a spokesperson for Adams’ office pointed out that the City Council agreed to the budget during negotiations earlier this summer.
“Mayor Adams and Chancellor [David] Banks are committed to providing students with the best education possible and every single student in our school system remains at 100% Fair Student Funding,” the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.
“[We] have allocated all federal stimulus dollars to critical programs and needs. We look forward to opening our schools with the resources they need to ensure our students thrive.”
After hearing concerns about the agreed-upon budget, the administration also made $150 million available to schools to help schools fill teacher vacancies.
Council members suggested that if the city didn’t restore the funding it could open up the need for a budget modification fight between Adams and the Council.
Should that come to pass, Borelli said he hopes the Council should address the needs of families who have pulled their kids out of the city’s public school system, including tuition tax credits, vouchers, and an expansion to the charter school system.
“These aren’t our enemies — people that leave the public school system. These are our constituents,” he said. “I’d rather be on their side than treating them as the enemy.”