“The Department of Education’s decision to broadly remove funding from the individual budgets of schools would leave them without the needed resources at this critical moment when they are being asked to do more for students. The Fiscal Year 2024 budget that the Council voted to adopt included funding to maintain school budgets at steady levels going into this academic year. Any insinuation that there was an agreement for mid-year adjustments to be handled like DOE has announced is patently false, and it is unfortunate that the DOE would be dishonest with the public. While the Department made no commitment related to mid-year adjustments, we maintained that school communities must have the necessary dollars needed for this school year and discussions would occur as we approached any adjustments. Yesterday’s announcement came without any meaningful engagement of the Council, Panel for Educational Policy, or other school stakeholders, as well as no related data – neither enrollment nor budget numbers. This unilateral decision places students at risk of not having the essential programs, staff, and services to succeed in their developmental and educational futures.
“The DOE must follow through on its commitment to be more transparent by publicly releasing the enrollment data and proposed budgets related to this announcement without any further delay. If the DOE believes in this policy, it should be able to explain how it will be implemented without harm rather than misleading through deflection and avoiding the scrutiny of transparency. We have been clear about the importance of treating schools based on their unique circumstances and students to address their budgetary needs, rather than simply as just numbers. The DOE must shift its approach to first engage the stakeholders of our schools in developing a constructive plan for school budgets and addressing the forthcoming funding gaps resulting from the expiration of federal stimulus dollars.”