STATEN ISLAND, NY — The New York City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on Mayor Eric Adams and the Department of Education to fully restore $469 million in budget cuts to schools.
The three members of the Staten Island City Council – City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island) and Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore ) – voted in favor of the resolution .
“I think this vote is an easy yes for all of us,” Borelli said. “Certainly, we’re all in favor of putting more money into classrooms.”
The Republican leader pointed out that the cuts, which were passed as part of the city’s budget earlier this year, were the result of declining enrollment that has only exacerbated during the pandemic.
In the school year that ended in 2016, New York City schools had an enrollment of 1,049,335 students, but that number fell to 1,007,610 students over the course of the school year that ended in 2021, according to figures maintained by the state Department of Education.
Advocates have repeatedly called on the mayor to restore 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 the Chancellor [David] The banks are committed to providing students with the best possible education and every student in our school system remains 100% Fair Student Funding,” the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.
“[We] have allocated all federal stimulus dollars to programs and critical needs. We look forward to opening our schools with the resources they need to ensure our students thrive. »
After hearing concerns about the agreed budget, the administration also made $150 million available to schools to help schools fill teaching vacancies.
Council members suggested that if the city did not restore funding, it could open up the need for a budget change fight between Adams and the Council.
If that were to happen, Borelli said he hopes the Council will address the needs of families who have taken their children out of the city’s public school system, including tuition tax credits, vouchers and expansion. of the charter school system.
“They are not our enemies — the people who leave the public school system. They are our constituents,” he said. “I’d rather be on their side than treat them as enemies.”