Back in March, when the city was still trying to get a handle on its education budget, City Councilman Robert Jackson noted that there were two different scenarios for the coming fiscal year: "bad" and "horrid."
Today, the education committee chairman said, there's only one: "horrid."
Jackson repeated that word at least nine times during the education committee's hearing on proposed budget cuts. He said the loss of $500 million in state aid would mean laying off 4,400 teachers, letting another 2,000 go through attrition, and eliminating almost 600 other support staffers and cafeteria workers. Which was why he wanted to know how Chancellor Joel Klein could justify hiring two more deputy chancellors who are each paid almost $200,000 a year, and giving raises to several more. He noted that there are now eight deputy chancellors.
Klein testified that one of those deputies is actually a new Chief Operating Officer and said the job is needed now more than ever because he's cut $38 million from central offices. The chancellor said another deputy is dealing with new schools and enrollment, and said the rest were given promotions. As for the raises, he called them "small adjustments" and said their salaries had been "out of line."
The chancellor insisted he had done all he could to protect classrooms from budget cuts. Several council members expressed great skepticism about his department's contracts with outside vendors at a time when it's projecting teacher layoffs. But Klein said the city retained a $5 million contract with The New Teacher Project to hire new teachers because there aren't enough with special education licenses to meet demand. And he said most of the city's other contracts are for special education services and busing that's legally mandated.