On Thursday, August 4, New York State Supreme Court Judge Lyle E. Frank decided to dismiss the city’s previous Department of Education budget and restore it back to the last fiscal year. This will allow the City Council to redo the vote on this budget.
Two teachers and two parents filed a lawsuit last month demanding the budget be scrapped due to the city violating state law by not allowing the Panel for Educational Policy to vote on the schools’ budget before they approved the final city budget. Judge Frank temporarily granted the restraining order on the against implementation of budget cuts at city public schools until the August 4th hearing.
The city couldn’t take any actions related to the budget cuts during that time and now after the hearing, the original budget cuts are nullified. The Mayor and the city submitted a notice of appeal for this hearing.
“Students, teachers, and parents need finalized budgets to ensure they are on track for a smooth opening next month,” a City Hall spokesperson told City & State. “We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling, and will be taking immediate steps to appeal.”
Mayor Adams’ administration, through a statement issued by Press Secretary Fabien Levy, calls the Council “attacks” false. They declared that the previous vote for the funding was transparent and the City Council was aware of what they were voting for and “knew it was the right decision.”
Levy continued: “This budget includes more city funding than ever before and is responsibly adjusted to address both declining enrollment and the end of federal stimulus funding, all of which is currently allocated. There is no secret pot of funding, and the City Council knows this.”
Mayor Adams cut $215 million from the DOE budget, citing decreasing enrollment as the reason. Although, according to City Comptroller Brad Lander’s analysis, it’s estimated that cuts are closer to $469 million.
Comptroller Lander stated the city has enough leftover stimulus funding to cover the DOE budget cuts.
Since the vote, Restler has been working on pushing back on these cuts with parents, teachers and advocates.
“This ruling couldn’t have happened without the teachers, parents, and advocates on the ground fighting to fully restore funding for our schools. I’m committed to do everything I can to bring urgently needed resources to our schools to keep class sizes small and keep art teachers and dual language programs in place,” Restler told Greenpointers via email.
He is gratified by this decision but knows there is still more that could be done by Mayor Adams and the DOE, as he stated in his tweet agreeing with Speaker of the New York Council Adrienne Adams.
Council Speaker Adams released a statement after the news of the hearing. Speaker Adams asserts that school budgets should be restored and that “Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks are risking the health of our school system and students, and they must resolve this issue immediately.”
“The Council is considering a full range of legal actions to take in the coming days to ensure DOE permanently restores school budgets, is accountable to the public, and completely transparent about all relevant budget information and detailed accounting of the status of its remaining federal stimulus funds,” said Council Speaker Adams.
Parents like Sarah Stansbury from the PS 34 PTA who have been vocal about the budget cuts and what it would mean for their schools, feel happy about this ruling, though Stansbury is disappointed by Mayor Adams’ decision to appeal.
“I am keenly aware of the games the Mayor/DOE is playing here — tying up the money and then blaming the advocates for throwing school budgets into chaos. They routinely try to pull the wool over parents’ eyes, and I’m just so heartened to see politicians, educators and parents calling it out time and time again,” said Stansbury.