Joint Statement by Speaker Christine C. Quinn and
Council Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.
Re: Department of Education Budget and Proposed Teacher Layoffs
We have grave concerns about a budget that allows for teacher layoffs and the immensely damaging effects they would have on our education system. Make no mistake – we will do everything in our power to prevent teacher layoffs.
The City has spent years of effort at improving our school system and working to ensure every child is provided with a valuable learning experience. Losing teachers would result in, among other things, larger class sizes and a substantial deterioration of the system's ability to provide children with the quality education they deserve.
It is vital that the City look at other options for cuts and savings within the Department of Education's (DOE) budget. Ensuring this happens is a top focus of our budgetary negotiations and it will remain a priority throughout the coming weeks.
Towards that end, the Council has begun to examine DOE's budget line by line and has identified significant areas where cuts can and should be considered. To date, our alternative cuts total more than $75 million that could be used toward saving teachers and preventing layoffs.
Our priority in the Council is clear: we remain committed to finding every possible means of preventing teacher layoffs. We will continue to identify and push for other cuts to be made in order to save our teachers.
$4,000,000 : Retrain teachers and reduce teacher recruitment contracts - The Department of Education spends $8 million annually recruiting unlicensed teachers. Retraining existing teaching staff for license specialties would save $4 million.
$280,000 : Reduce spending for DOE's Press Office – There are currently 13 positions in the DOE's Press Office. Reducing headcount by (3) positions could generate approximately $280,000 in savings.
$375,000 : Reduce headcount in the Office of Community Engagement and/or merge with the Office of Public Affairs. – There are currently 7 positions in the Office of Community Engagement and 7 positions in the Office of Public Affairs. Merging these offices and or eliminating 2 positions in each could generate approximately $375,000 in savings.
$940,000 : Reduce headcount in the Office of Family Information and Action- There is currently 49 positions in the Office of Family Information and Action. Eliminating 10positions could generate approximately $940,000 in savings.
$2,000,000 : Better leveraging of superintendents and school support organization staff - There are currently 60 network teams organized in to 6 clusters. There are 12-14 employees in each Network Team and 5 employees in each Cluster. In addition, there are still 40 superintendents. The DOE could better align job responsibilities of superintendents and network leaders. Elimination of 10 positions classified as "superintendents" with an average salary of $200K would generate $2 million savings.
$35,000,000 : Reduce over-estimated spending: DOE budgeted spending increases in several areas appear to be excessive and have not been justified by DOE with any projections or documentation, including a 29% increase in Carter cases ($246 m in FY 12), a 39% increase in Contract School payments ($451 m in FY 12), and a 20% increase in Special Education pre-kindergarten spending ($825 m in FY 12). Reducing the projected growth to historical levels would NOT in any way affect the services but could immediately free up tens of millions of dollars to help avert teacher layoffs.
$7,500,000 : Reduce Pupil Transportation Spending: Busing Contracts climb to $1.5 billion in Fiscal 2012, an 8% increase from the Fiscal 2011 Adopted Budget. Tightening the budget projections and scheduling just a 1% cut would produce savings of $15 million. The CTL savings would be $7.5 million.
$3,000,000 : Reduce contract spending for legal services - The DOE's office of legal services currently has 133 positions. The DOE spent $9.9 million in legal service contracts in Fiscal 2010, and currently has a $13.3 million legal services contract budget in Fiscal 2011. Reducing legal service contracts and or reducing headcount in the Office of Legal Services could generate some savings. Cut contracts to FY 10 level.
$13,200,000 : Reduce technology spending – IT contracts total $50.6 million in the FY 2012 Executive Budget, up 76% from the FY 2011 Adopted Budget. IT contracts include those associated with operating learning systems, such iZone. School of One, under iZone, currently has a $2.7 million contract. If the DOE increases FY 11 technology spending by 30%, still a significant increase in spending, it would save $13.2 million.
$9,000,000 : Reduce contract spending for professional development – In FY'11, the DOE spent $90 million on professional development contracts. If they were to use in-house training and reduce spending in this area by 10%, it would generate a savings of $9 million.