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$24.8 Billion Schools Budget Would be a Record High for New York City

By Amy Zimmer on June 4, 2013 4:49pm 

 Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

MANHATTAN — The city is proposing to spend $24.8 billion on education for fiscal year 2014, an all-time high for the schools and $1 billion more than last year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Tuesday in prepared remarks for City Council budget hearing.

Over the last decade the share between the city and state for education has shifted from a roughly equal split to a decrease in state funding. The city will spend $4.5 billion more than the state this year, education officials said.

Though spending is rising, Walcott touted the Department of Education's decrease in spending on central administration staff.

Central administration funding, for instance, dropped from $399 million in 2008 to a projected $266 million for the present fiscal year, according to Walcott.

"When this administration took office, education officials enjoyed perks like cars and drivers," Walcott said in a statement. "Money went to sustaining the lavish lifestyles of adults, instead of going into classrooms for kids. We got rid of that – and today, our central administration costs are at their lowest point ever during this administration."

Education watchdogs, however, noted that the $399 million spent on central administration was already six years into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's takeover of the school system.

"They pick and chose the dates from which they have their increases or decreases," said Brooklyn College professor David Bloomfield.

Although central administrative costs may have gone down, many of the school-based expenses — which were central mandates — were rising, such as for the common core and teacher evaluations, Bloomfield pointed out.

Starting this June, the DOE was more than doubling its funding for teacher development, setting aside $100 million to train teachers in the common core standards and to prep schools to implement the new teacher evaluation system, Walcott said. The department was also spending $56 million to support the implementation of the common core-aligned curriculum.

Other costs were expected to balloon for the schools as teachers remained in their jobs longer instead of making way for hiring new — and less expensive — teachers. Also, Walcott highlighted the creation of some 656 new mission-driven schools that have opened specializing in everything from software engineering to emergency management.

But that has driven up costs, too, since it's meant the hiring of many more principals, Bloomfield noted.

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