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Where is the PCB clean-up money coming from?

As federal inspectors found toxic PCB chemicals in another city school this week, city officials committed to spending more than $700 million over the next decade to replace the light fixtures that leak the toxins.

On today’s Rise & Shine post, frequent commenter, parent and punster Michael M. wondered where those city funds would come from. It’s a good question, and one whose answer sheds some light on how the city shifts its resources in response to changes in priorities.

Some of the funds to fix the aging light fixtures were in fact included in Friday’s amendment to the city’s capital plan, which proposes to reduce capital spending overall by about $2 billion. As part of that plan, the city added $141 million to the Department of Education’s budget for interior work on occupied school buildings. The remaining $567 million that the city said today it plans to spend on the repairs over the next 10 years has not yet been allocated.

Overall, the proposed changes to the capital plan would increase spending on interior work to school buildings by slightly under $86 million. In addition to replacing leaky light fixtures, the city is spending more money upgrading its heating plants and climate control systems but is also slashing funds allocated to boiler conversions.

That type of shifting of budgeted resources happens all over the capital plan. As the Post and the Daily News noted over the weekend, the capital plan amendment would slash the funds allocated for adding new school seats while nearly tripling the money spent on technology.

Technology and repairs are two of just a few areas in the capital plan whose funding is increasing rather than being cut. Other areas where the city plans to devote more capital resources include funds to bring buildings up to code; asbestos abatement; and enhancement to school auditoriums.

In addition to new seats, areas being cut include funds to restructure buildings to accommodate instructional changes or the addition of new schools; safety enhancements; science lab, library and physical fitness upgrades; and its emergency fund.

Read the city’s full amendment to its 2010-14 school capital plan here.

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