Anna Phillips is a staff reporter at GothamSchools.
The 2011-12 school year, which has already resulted in painful budget choices by school principals, is likely to get even leaner.
Just a few days away from the scheduled layoff of about 700 school workers, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced citywide budget cuts of $2 billion on Tuesday — and this time the city's public schools will not be spared.
The cuts will mean that $753 million will be shaved from the city's schools budget.
According to an article by David W. Chen of The New York Times, cuts of 2 percent and then 6 percent will be made citywide, representing City Hall's initial take at budget reduction. But that may just be the start of the citywide reductions, he writes.
For school aides, parent coordinators and other support staff members facing layoffs on Friday, arguing that the city could afford to save their jobs if they worked fewer hours just became much more difficult.
But representatives of District Council 37, which will bear the brunt of the cuts this week, continued to press their case outside City Hall, holding still another demonstration there on Tuesday. This time, they were joined by some of the people from the nearby Occupy Wall Street protest.
"It's a matter of ridiculous priorities to be laying off people who need to work and are helping our children and not taxing the rich people who are not paying their share," Eric Fretz, one of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, told Yasmeen Khan, a reporter for WNYC, at the City Hall rally.
In turn, the unions representing school employees are planning to join the Wall Street protest Wednesday, trying to make their point that the effects of the shrinking economy are being felt most by workers and schoolchildren.
While the new cuts could affect the entire school system, the head of the teachers' union said he was not worried about teacher layoffs. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said he had an agreement from the city that there would be no layoffs of his members this school year.
The New York Post notes that this would be the 11th round of budget cuts since 2007. For schools, midyear cuts are especially painful. The contracts with the after-school programs have already been signed, teachers have been hired, books purchased, and all of a sudden what little money is tucked away for spending for the rest of the year is threatened to disappear from their budgets.
In other news:
An audit by Comptroller John C. Liu found that of the 31 elementary schools across the city that officials visited, none were in full compliance with the state guidelines on physical education. At Public School 163 in the Bronx, officials found that there was no gym and there were no gym teachers.
The Daily News reports that the state's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has started an investigation into New York school food vendors who may be illegally overcharging schools. Mr. Schneiderman's office has sent subpoenas to 10 different food sellers as part of the inquiry.
And data released recently on the utilization rate of city schools shows that city schools are becoming more crowded. At general academic schools, the rate of seats taken versus seats available rose to 83 percent, from 81 percent in 2010.
Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine morning post has a fuller roundup of education stories in Wednesday's news.
And Wednesday is Principal for a Day, the annual program that places "civilians" — celebrities, business people, athletes — in public schools for a few hours.
The event will be kicked off with a news conference by Pencil, the organization behind the program, which will be announcing its plans to redouble its efforts to match sponsors from the corporate world with city schools, a focus of the organization. The schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, will be there.