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School budgets to be trimmed by average of 2.43 percent

With their schools’ budgets for next year finally in hand, principals are now being tasked with cutting nearly 2.5 percent.

Department of Education officials announced the cuts this morning in an online presentation to principals, many of whom had grown anxious about heading into summer vacation without knowing how much they would be able to spend next year. School-level budgets, usually announced in late May or early June, had been held up by city negotiations over Mayor Bloomberg’s threat to lay off teachers. A deal reached Friday night averted layoffs with a mix of union concessions and City Council funds.

Now, even though there will be no layoffs, schools will still suffer budget cuts of $178 million, or an average of 2.43 percent, according to the presentation. That follows a 4 percent cut last year, and school officials say many schools remain likely to trim their staffs.

“Given the current budget conditions, we expect that many schools will be compelled to excess teachers,” reads one slide of the presentation. “Many of the teachers placed in excess will be capable and effective teachers, and we are committed to creating opportunities for them to be promptly hired elsewhere.”

The DOE’s central administration budget will fall by 13.5 percent, according to the presentation. The presentation also explains that the two-year-old freeze on new hires remains in effect, except for 40 percent of positions at new schools and for special education, English as a second language, and speech teachers.

Principals have until July 22 to allocate their funds. By July 15, they must select which positions to eliminate and notify teachers in those positions that they must look for another job. Teachers who are excessed will have until Aug. 8 to find another job through the city’s regular school jobs system. If they do not find another job before the start of the next school year, they will join the Absent Teacher Reserve, whose members will be deployed as substitute teachers starting this fall.

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