Eric Adams doubles down on NYC schools’ belt tightening, citing budget tightness

As schools opened Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams refused to reverse cuts to the overall education budget, pointing to the bleak financial picture for New York City to come.

Projections released this week by city and state budget officials show a mammoth $10 billion deficit in the coming years, thanks to high costs and fading federal stimulus dollars.

“It’s not about just spending money — it’s about spending the money to get the results our kids deserve,” Adams said at a back-to-school news conference in the Bronx.

“We know we’re doing the right thing, and time will tell how focused we are on spending taxpayers’ money wisely,” he said, referring to projections that the city will be nearing a budget crisis when it does not getting spending under control.

Adams pushed back on calls for the city to use COVID relief to cover budget cuts, in large part due to falling enrollment as schools return to a policy of tying budgets to student enrollments.

The vast majority of city council members passed a resolution on Tuesday calling on the administration to use those funds to reverse $469 million in cuts in principals’ allocations while schools are still grappling with the deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

“Here’s what the City Council basically said — that there’s a lot of stimulus money, let’s just spend that stimulus money,” Adams said.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference on the first day of school.
Eric Adams speaks on PS 161 on the first day of school for NYC public schools.
Seth Gottfried for the NY Post
NYC Comptroller speaks at a press conference.
NYC Comptroller Brad Lander estimates millions in time-sensitive budgeting.
William Farrington for the NY Post

Estimates by City Examiner Brad Lander show that public schools will have $4.4 billion in time-sensitive funds to spend over the next school years, including more than $500 million budgeted for the final school year, but through the summer were not used.

City Hall denies that those funds are unallocated.

“The money is running out and every dollar we have is being accounted for,” Adams said.

There have been about 120,000 fewer students on public school rosters over the past five years, according to the Department of Education — which expects to lose another 30,000 students by the end of this school year.

Advocates say cutting funding will only result in more families looking for options outside of traditional public schools, including charter, Catholic and private schools – while City Hall has called “dysfunctional” paying the same amount for a school system issue that serves fewer students.

On the first day of school, parents and children enter the school grounds.
On the first day of school, Anderson School students and parents enter the school grounds.
Robert Miller for the NY Post
A mother kisses her daughter on the first day of school.
A mother kisses her daughter on the first day of school.
Seth Gottfried for the NY Post

“We face a potential deficit of $10 billion over the coming years,” Adams said, referring to reports by Lander and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for 2026 at a Financial Control Board meeting on Tuesday.

“We have to be smart about taxation. We must make sure we have the justice we need for our children.” Eric Adams doubles down on NYC schools’ belt tightening, citing budget tightness


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