City Council committee spices up Schools Chancellor Banks with questions about state of NYC public schools

Department of Education (DOE) Schools Chancellor David Banks and other city education officials faced a litany of budget questions Monday from city council members over funding supplement and proposed changes for public schools.

The March 21 hearing was for DOE members to explain to board members and New Yorkers how public school education spending for fiscal year 2023 will be allocated, as well as an opportunity for leaders of the DOE to learn what is needed in the future of their constituents. Joining Banks on the dais were Dan Weisberg, First Vice-Chancellor and Lindsey Oates, Chief Financial Officer.

“As we continue to make progress in our post-pandemic recovery efforts, our schools deserve all the funding they need to ensure a strong and well-rounded staff,” said Rita Joseph, board member, chair of the board of directors. education before presenting the chancellor. “As a recent former teacher, I know first-hand the importance of quality programming and holistic support to foster the success of these students.”

In his opening remarks, Banks expressed his gratitude to all Board members and staff present at the hearing, acknowledging all of their hard work and how their dedication to advocating for education during the discussion of the preliminary budget.

Banks spoke of a great opportunity the New York City Council had given the DOE by allocating funds to improve the city’s public schools.

“The City Council has allowed us to provide 100% Fair Student Funding (FSF) to all schools for the first time this year,” Banks said. “This is an incredible investment in our students and wouldn’t be a reality without the advocacy of so many people, especially the City Council. We are pleased to see that the Governor’s and State Legislature’s budgets propose to continue phasing in the state aids necessary to maintain 100% of the FSF. »

The council has also been instrumental in funding public education through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Banks said ARPA was an integral aid in helping New York schools get back on track amid the chaos and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board members raised numerous questions regarding the allocation of funds allocated from the preliminary budget to areas of the DOE most in need, including some complaints about the alleged structural disrepair of schools and the additional support needed to maintain school facilities. .

“I gave a work presentation at one of my schools last week,” said Bronx board member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “I was really disappointed, I was just disgusted [by] the state of this school. The total lack of maintenance – and I take that personally because it’s a school a stone’s throw from my offices, in my neighborhood. I grew up in this community. And just to see the disrespect with how disgusting this school was. One of the students asked me ‘when are you going to fix the [basketball] rim?’ I try to do my best to allocate funds to these schools, but I was just surprised by the conditions of this school.

DOE leaders agreed, with Weisberg offering to take a tour of the school in question to address issues of dilapidation and investigate the conduct of school superintendents who fail to keep their schools healthy and safe for children.

Chancellor Banks also announced that he and his administration will continue to invest in and support the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI) – a NYC DOE effort to prepare middle school students for academic and career success.

“We will continue this work, but we are looking at exactly what shape,” Weisberg said. “We know we have to go to middle schools, we talk a lot about early literacy and we talk about student journeys. We know that if we don’t address and build on student pathways, we won’t have quality middle schools. We will find out how to scale it [MSQI] so that all our colleges are quality colleges.

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