New York City Education Budget Hits $25 Billion

The 2013-14 fiscal year education budget for New York City schools will reach $24.8 billion — a $1 billion increase over the previous year, Corinne Lestsch and Ben Chapman report in the New York Daily News.

While New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says that classrooms will see more money, a significant portion of the increase will fund teacher pensions and debt service.

New York City is struggling to fund several large-scale projects, including the adoption and implementation of Common Core standards and a new teacher evaluation program:

About $165 million of the $1 billion increase will go to train teachers on the tougher new Common Core academic standards as well as to prepare schools for a new teacher evaluation system that will be rolled out in September.

The landmark teacher evaluation plan introduced just days ago has both won praise and caused ire. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the guidelines, which shift evaluation to a 4-tiered rating system and depend on a mixture of student achievement and administrative in-person evaluations.

The United Federation of Teachers, the city's teachers union, is roundly considered to have come up short in the battle for reforming the teacher evaluation process.

A portion of the budget proposal will go to expanding tutoring options for struggling students and curriculum development to meet Common Core.

Approximately $200 million — 20% of the proposed increase — will go to developing charter schools in the city and increasing options for vocation and technical education.

The budget received a warm reception initially at a June 3 City Council meeting at which Walcott testified. Walcott touted the budget as the "largest investment ever made in New York City public schools," but councilors quickly turned on him over a dispute regarding long-term contracts for bus services.

But the meeting began with councilors demanding that Walcott and other Department of Education officials swear an oath, suggesting that they had lied to the Council in the past. The animosity over the request, which Walcott refused to accommodate, overshadowed the budget projection.

CBSNewYork relayed the following exchange between Walcott and Committee Chair Robert Jackson over the contentious bus contract issue, which Walcott says saves the district $100 million over 5 years:

"You have not proven that, chancellor, that you have saved the city…" Jackson said.

"Well, once the contracts are registered…" Walcott said.

"Because it's registered? You and I know it doesn't mean that you saved anything, chancellor," Jackson said.

"So you are calling me a liar," Walcott said.

"No, chancellor," Jackson said.

"No, therefore, you are calling me a liar," Walcott said.

CBS reports that the exchange was representative of the next three hours of the hearing.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
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