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Principals respond to budget cuts; they say teachers go next

GothamSchools asked principals how they’re handling this year’s sizable mid-year cuts and how they plan to cope with the even larger cuts that loom in the near future. Here are their responses so far:

Bronx middle school:

Here’s what we’ve cut so far to reach our budget reductions for this year:
1 Assistant Principal
1 Teacher
2 paraprofessionals
2 school aides
Supplies budget by 50%
Per Session (giving people pay for meeting together to plan collaboratively) by about 50% (we’ve tried to maintain at 100% our per session pay that was set aside for tutoring students)

Other than not replacing two teachers who are leaving at the end of June (one is retiring and one is out on a medical leave), I have no idea how I’m going to meet the cuts for next year!

Manhattan elementary school:

We had an $80,000 cut this year and we are estimating a $200,000 cut for next year. The school has the essentials but we were hoping to buy SMARTboards for each grade and air conditioning for the auditorium, both of which will not occur now. We receive a lot of federal money from Title I, because we are a high poverty area. The Title I funds have eased some of the pain other schools are feeling.

Brooklyn elementary school:

We are very scared as we will have to eliminate all after school programs and raise class sizes as we will have to eliminate about 5 positions… this flies in the face of the success we have had by lowering class size and having after school programs…. Sad times…

Large Queens school:

So far this year my budget was cut $266,000.00. I have heard that our proposed cut for next year is 668,000.00. As of now we have been able to absorb the initial cut without any major changes to instructional programs; we may have to cut some after-school and/Saturday tutoring programs as we get closer to the end of the year. All of our dollars are allocated when our October 31st register is set.

When the city cuts the budget they are actually taken monies that were spoken for. Some of our funds are allocated for areas that we do not control, e.g. teacher absence and coverage pay. If teachers are absent more then we planned for from past years we need more dollars in the budget; and likewise if they are absent less than in the past then we have money left over. So as you can see budget dollars change.

I will say that if they take 668,000.00 next year that that will have a direct impact on instruction. That translates into 10 teacher lines; if it happens I would probably be forced to excess 5 teachers and make major cuts in peripheral programs. This will cause all classes to be full and possibly over sized and a reduction in instructional services to our struggling learners.

In addition, if they make an additional cut, which we heard might happen, this year, then we will have to excess teachers mid-year. If that happens all schools will have great difficulty.

Large Queens middle school:

This year, we’re probably going to cancel Saturday programs and cut back on sports. And we won’t be able to buy new Spanish books, which are very old. Next year, we will have to fire a dean and have fewer assistant principals. And we’ll have to cut a guidance counselor and a lab specialist. … The bottom line is we will get rid of the things we don’t absolutely need.

A report from IS 296 in Brooklyn:

Principal Maria De Los Barreto closed one entire academy. Her school is broken down into small learning communities. In addition, this year her school leadership team were planning to expand the technology programs with classroom smart boards and they are unable to reach this goal. … She did not open any new vacancies and she could not replace teachers that transferred out. This increased her classroom enrollment and made her class much larger this year.

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