As NYC is expected to spend $38K per student, budget watchdog calls for prioritizing ‘critical services’

As NYC is expected to spend $38K per student, budget watchdog calls for prioritizing ‘critical services’

Buoyed in recent years by billions in federal stimulus dollars, New York City is slated to spend about $38,000 per student next school year — the most in recent history — as enrollment is again expected to drop, according to a new report published Tuesday.

The report, from Citizens Budget Commission, or CBC, a budget watchdog group, comes as the education department faces 3% in cuts for next year. Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council are in the middle of budget planning for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

Many of the CBC’s findings focus on the period from fiscal year 2016 through 2022, since the current fiscal year, 2023, isn’t over yet. Some of the report’s highlights include:

– In that time period, the education department’s spending per pupil has increased by 47%, in large part due to the $7 billion in federal COVID aid the district received as enrollment has dipped. Three school years from now, in fiscal year 2026, CBC projects the city could be spending as much as $44,000 per student.
– Spending grew the most in three areas: early childhood education, at 65%, covering private school tuition, such as for students with disabilities, by 79%, and for charter schools, by 84%. This was fueled by enrollment growth in these specific areas.
– Spending related to schools, such as for instruction, grew by about 34%. Spending on school services, such as transportation, food, and safety, grew at a similar rate.
Spending on school support, such as special education instructional costs, grew by about 15%. And spending on central costs, including central administration, fringe benefits, pension contributions, and debt service, saw the slowest growth – by 8%.

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