The New York City Department of Education (DOE) announced earlier this month that it will be enacting several budget cuts for the city’s public schools for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal school years. Stuyvesant students were notified of the upcoming budget cuts on Thursday, November 6 when a letter from the DOE was posted on the school website. The letter stated that the DOE would face $180 million in reductions this year and $385 million the following year. Stuyvesant’s budget will be cut by $304,000 this year with a projected $754,000 cut for the 2010 fiscal year. “The $304,000 is a definite,” Principal Stanley Teitel said.
Stuyvesant was one of 74 schools included on a list released by the DOE on Thursday, May 22 announcing budget cuts for the listed schools’ current school year. Stuyvesant faced a cut of $955,135, or 5.32 percent of its budget. The expected cuts were cancelled when the New York City Council restored $129 million to the city’s education budget.
This time around, the budget cuts will affect all New York City schools, not a specific few. “As long as they don’t take away different amounts from different schools, I guess I’m okay with it,” junior Nelson Chau said.
Some students are concerned about the effects the budget cuts will have on classes and extracurricular activities at Stuyvesant. “Stuy still needs its elective and extracurriculars for its students,” sophomore Raymond Liang said. Teitel had earlier considered limiting student programs to at most seven instructional periods and lunch in order to deal with the eventually-restored budget cuts for the 2008 fiscal year.
Other students agree. “All our classes and our activities help us explore our world so that we may have a better understanding of the world around us, and that privilege should not be taken away from us by budget cuts,” junior Xiangyu Xie said.
Teitel stated that the new budget cuts would not have any effect on classes for the remainder of the current school year. “So far, classes are not affected,” he said. “We had programmed all our classes in case something like this happened. Unless something else happens this year, students won’t notice a thing.”
“[Teitel] kept [last year] in mind when he prepared this year’s budget,” Parent Coordinator Harvey Blumm said. “He deserves a lot of credit. I think he’s demonstrated his goal is to protect the classroom. He’ll focus on cutting from other areas before turning to the teachers and students.”
Parents’ Association (PA) Co-President Paola de Kock expressed concern over the new budget cuts. “The PA is going to try to raise money, but we can’t pay for instruction,” she said. “We’ve paid for a lot of stuff the DOE should be paying, like copy machines and supplies.”
“This country, this state, has to come to terms with its children,” de Kock said. “All children have the right to a free public education.”
“This is like déjà vu,” Blumm said. “This is exactly what we went through when we were hit last time. The PA did a wonderful job last year, and they’ll have to do the same this year, too. Basically, whether it’s schools, healthcare or anything else, the pie is getting smaller. And everyone’s going to be fighting to keep their piece of the pie, which is what we have to do.”
To deal with the upcoming $754,000 cut that Stuyvesant will face in the 2009-2010 school year, Teitel may decide to give students fewer classes and he “might have to cut afterschool programs and extra-curriculars,” he said.
According to Teitel, it is unclear exactly how and to what extent the future budget cuts will affect Stuyvesant students.
“Next September, no one can put away the cuts we’ll face,” Blumm said.
“I don’t think things economically are getting better by the day,” Teitel said. “Governor Paterson announced a 2.1 billion-dollar cut to the state budget, with 585 million coming from education, and 244 million of that from the New York City DOE.”