Federal sequester forces hike in state school spending

The federal budget sequester is taking a big bite out of budgets for schools serving New York’s poorest children – and the state is now stepping in to fill the breach.

This week, the New York State Education Department released preliminary allocations to school budgets under Title I, a federal program that provides supplemental funding primarily to high-poverty schools. On average, Title I funding to schools citywide will be cut by 5.6 percent.

The cuts go deeper than those threatened in a May letter to superintendents and principals, in which the New York City Department of Education (DOE) projected an approximately 5 percent reduction in Title I funds.

Marcus Liem, Deputy Press Secretary at DOE, says the department had set aside state aid to make up for the 5 percent reduction it projected in May and is currently working to find additional resources for the unexpected added loss.

New York City charter schools, which operate as their own districts for the purposes of Title I allocations, are not so lucky. According to Liem, they will not be receiving these additional funds from the city.

Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School is currently facing a $125,785 reduction in Title I funds. Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx is expected to see a $34,016 cut.

PS 98 in Inwood is one of many city schools hit with cuts in federal funding. Photo courtesy Inside Schools

PS 98 in Inwood is one of many city schools hit with cuts in federal funding. Photo courtesy Inside Schools

New York City schools will split $716 million in Title I funds, $42 million less than they did last year, which will be allocated to schools based on the number of economically disadvantaged students they serve. Statewide, Title I funds were cut by 5.7 percent for a loss of more than $62 million.

This is the third consecutive year of cuts to New York City’s Title I funding, which have resulted in a total reduction of 9.4 percent to the program since 2011.

Amy Ellen Schwartz, a Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at NYU, says she is not surprised the district stepped in to assist its schools.

“The city and state have been quite responsible when it comes to holding schools harmless when the federal government makes changes to the Title I budget or formula,” said Schwartz.

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