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Number of principals who appealed their budgets up 50 percent

The total number of budget appeals filed by principals are way up this year, confirming our report last month that school leaders were finding their budgets more unworkable.

The Department of Education received 253 official budget appeals from principals last month, a 50 percent spike over last year, according to figures released today.

The surge reflects the fiscal challenges facing many of the city’s public school system, where principals say they are doing more with less.

This year, the DOE trimmed $178 million from its schools budget, its third straight year of cuts. As a result, we wrote last month, some principals were forced to stretch their dollars are far as they could go and were still unable to come up with enough funds for basic needs.

Lisa Siegman, a principal at P.S. 3 in the West Village who publicly lobbied for more money, said she wouldn’t be able open in September because she “couldn’t staff the school” with enough teachers.

The last-ditch effort in the budget process, which ended on July 22, was to an file appeal. An appeal is a formal request that requires principals to propose how much more money they need and to provide a doomsday scenario of what services they would lose if funding weren’t restored. Principals also have to include any significant changes that affected their latest budget, such as the loss of Title 1 funding and student population changes.

But if that past is any indication, the appeals process could be fruitful for many of the appealing principals. The DOE restored at least partial funding to two-thirds of the 166 schools that filed appeals last year.

The spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said that the DOE would rule on all appeals by Aug. 12.

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