New York Daily News
When fed cash goes, schools will take hit
The city’s Education Department is headed for a “fiscal cliff” when billions in federal stimulus funds dry up in 2025, state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned in a Thursday report.
City schools are set to receive roughly $8 billion in federal cash over the next four years — and officials have pledged much of it to expanding ongoing initiatives like free preschool for 3-year-olds and hundreds of new social workers.
The problem, the comptroller’s office said, is that the federal money expires in 2025, but the initiatives it’s funding don’t — forcing officials to either find a new way to cover more than $1 billion annually by 2025 or make difficult cuts.
“This is not something you provide and roll back,” said Rahul Jain, deputy state comptroller for New York City. “It’s going to be there and add to the expense base the city is taking on…you’re really going to have to start making the hard decisions.”
The biggest recurring expense is the expansion of Mayor de Blasio’s “3-K” program — which officials project will grow to serve more than 60,000 youngsters and cost more than $750 million a year at full size starting in Fall 2023.
The city proposed covering all $753 million with one-time federal funds in Fiscal Year 2024, and splitting the cost evenly between city and federal money in Fiscal Year 2025. That means officials will need to cover the full $753 million by Fiscal Year 2026 — a steep task with the city already projecting a $4 billion deficit by then, Jain said.
Additional hundreds of millions per year will be spent paying for additional social workers and more “community schools” — initiatives that will also be vulnerable when the federal money runs out, Jain said.
All in all, 3,800 new staff positions will be funded with federal dollars by 2025 — “positions that the city will have to consider cutting if it is unable to find other recurring funding sources for the programs,” the report says.
Laura Feyer, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, said “we are optimistic revenue will bounce back strong over time... We carefully monitor DOE’s budget and will address any needs through the budget process at that time.”