Economic crisis threatens city schools

January 29, 2009 3:31:54 PM PST
Chancellor Joel Klein tossed around some pretty big numbers in Albany. The one that might concern parents the most involves teachers.

He said that if the funding picture doesn't improve, as many as 15-thousand city school teachers could lose their jobs.

The economic crisis is doing a number on the city school system.

That according to Chancellor Klein, who unveiled what parents might call a doomsday budget situation for next school year.

Testifying before members of the state Senate and Assembly he painted a pretty bleak funding picture.

"We must do everything in our power to protect our schools and keep our country's financial crisis from turning into a crisis in our classrooms," he said.

That statement was the warm-up for the main act, sobering funding cuts.

Klein said the state budget will cut 700-million from city schools. Add in that the city budget will slash another 500-million and costs will rise by 200-million, city schools will face a 1.4-billion dollar funding shortfall.

Those daunting numbers could equal thousands of job cuts, specifically teachers.

To avoid the layoffs, schools officials want to see some funding restrictions lifted.

"The impact of the cut's size is exacerbated by the restrictive nature of school funding," he said.

There's been an ongoing battle over those restrictions. Some refute the chancellor's assertion that the restrictions are the problem.

"I don't think the restrictions are that daunting," said Geri Palast, who is with the campaign for fiscal equity. "What they want is a situation where all money is green and they can spend it how they see fit."

But the most immediate problem is where will the schools come up with the money as the problems with the economy trickle down to classrooms?


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