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Principals will learn about a bleak financial situation tomorrow

School principals and reporters will be briefed on the Department of Education’s financial situation tomorrow — and the outlook is likely to include “huge, gigantic cuts,” according to a City Council source. The briefing will come one day before Mayor Bloomberg is scheduled to release his 2010 budget proposal.

An April 8 memo from the city’s budget director asked the DOE to cut 1.5 percent from its proposed operating budget through layoffs or attrition. The cuts will come on top of $251 million that the mayor proposed slashing from the DOE when he first released a 2010 budget plan, in January. The DOE has already revised its budget down $1.9 billion in the last year, down over 10 percent. This new 1.5 percent cut would chop off about $260 million more.

The city cuts will be much more manageable thanks to an influx of federal stimulus dollars to the city schools. But a City Council source said that, as currently proposed, they will still be dramatic.

“There’s huge, gigantic cuts proposed in the city’s school budget, and unless there’s some miraculous turnaround in the economic forecast, I don’t think anyone expects an increase in city funds going to schools,” the source said.

Ann Forte, a DOE spokeswoman, said school officials will brief principals on the financial situation tomorrow. Forte said the funding situation is “fluid,” since a few months remain before the City Council could choose to allocate more funds to the DOE in its June budget. The city budget must be finalized by July 1, the beginning of the city’s new fiscal year.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told City Council members last month that he was worried about having to lay off as many as 2,000 city teachers if the state didn’t channel sufficient federal stimulus money to the city schools. An April 1 City Council report on the mayor’s January proposed budget said the state’s revised budget, buoyed by stimulus dollars, would prevent teacher layoffs.

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