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As city and state budgets are formed, principals wait to plan

In response to GothamSchools’ survey about how schools plan to handle the budget cuts, several principals are saying they can’t begin to speculate about what they’ll slash because they don’t know yet how much money they’ll be losing.

They won’t find out for a while. Their first hint will come next month, when the city presents to the City Council its preliminary budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Principals will really be able to start planning for next year in the “late spring,” DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte told me. The state’s fiscal year begins April 1, so by then schools will know how much they’re losing from the state and will also have a good idea of how much they’ll receive in city funds.

The process to arrive at the city’s preliminary budget is underway now. This week, the DOE, like other city agencies, is presenting a suggested budget for next year to the mayor’s office, a City Hall spokesman told me on Friday. The spokesman, Mark LaVorgna, said agencies were asked to draw up budgets incorporating a 7 percent cut in city funding. Some speculate that the final percentage could be even larger once the city factors in the effect of cuts from the state.

The public will get to see the broad outlines of the DOE’s budget proposal when the city plan goes to the City Council. The city’s budget proposal will show how the DOE has divided cuts between its central administration and individual schools. Details about how much each school will lose will come after that. Mayor Bloomberg has said that individual schools will “bear the brunt” of the upcoming cuts.

Last year, the city revealed its proposed budget at the very end of January, and a week later principals had money from their current budgets withdrawn from their accounts overnight. Because schools already experienced midyear budget adjustments in November, they are unlikely to lose any more funds during this school year, Forte said.

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