The New York City teachers union boss ripped City Hall for cutting critical school programs while spending billions on central administrators in a pointed statement Thursday afternoon.
“We all know there are tough budget times ahead, and new sources of revenue have to be found,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “But according to its own filing with the state, the New York City school system spends more than $6 billion every year on central administration.”
City Hall announced a 3 percent budget drawdown in city school spending next fiscal year to help cover gaping revenue shortfalls stemming from the coronavirus crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $827 million is cuts that will impact everything from hiring to the availability of guidance counselors.
“To the extent that DOE cuts become necessary, that’s the first place the city should be looking,” Mulgrew said of spending on central office administrators. “Now is not the time to cut direct services to students and school communities when they are going through so much.”
The halt in hiring — which will save roughly $100 million — could compel the DOE to fill teaching positions with members of the Absent Teacher Reserve, staffers without permanent positions due to budget cuts or performance problems.
The nation’s largest school system had a budget of more than $30 billion this year and spends more per student than any other city in the country.
But the DOE pushed back on Mulgrew’s numbers Thursday, arguing that the $6 billion is not limited to central administration costs and supports leases and school programming.
“Every dollar of the DOE budget supports schools including central offices that provide programming, develop curriculum, and hire staff for schools,” said spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.. “While over half of the DOE’s budget goes directly to principals for school-based budgeting, less than a third of the FY 2021 reductions will affect school budgets directly.”