New York

Principals respond to budget cuts; they say teachers go next

GothamSchools asked principals how they’re handling this year’s sizable mid-year cuts and how they plan to cope with the even larger cuts that loom in the near future. Here are their responses so far:

Bronx middle school:

Here’s what we’ve cut so far to reach our budget reductions for this year:
1 Assistant Principal
1 Teacher
2 paraprofessionals
2 school aides
Supplies budget by 50%
Per Session (giving people pay for meeting together to plan collaboratively) by about 50% (we’ve tried to maintain at 100% our per session pay that was set aside for tutoring students)

Other than not replacing two teachers who are leaving at the end of June (one is retiring and one is out on a medical leave), I have no idea how I’m going to meet the cuts for next year! 🙁

Manhattan elementary school:

We had an $80,000 cut this year and we are estimating a $200,000 cut for next year.  The school has the essentials but we were hoping to buy SMARTboards for each grade and air conditioning for the auditorium, both of which will not occur now.  We receive a lot of federal money from Title I, because we are a high poverty area.  The Title I funds have eased some of the pain other schools are feeling.

Brooklyn elementary school:

We are very scared as we will have to eliminate all after school programs and raise class sizes as we will have to eliminate about 5 positions… this flies in the face of the success we have had by lowering class size and having after school programs…. Sad times…

Large Queens school:

So far this year my budget was cut $266,000.00. I have heard that our proposed cut for next year is 668,000.00. As of now we have been able to absorb the initial cut without any major changes to instructional programs; we may have to cut some after-school and/Saturday tutoring programs as we get closer to the end of the year. All of our dollars are allocated when our October 31st register is set.

When the city cuts the budget they are actually taken monies that were spoken for. Some of our funds are allocated for areas that we do not control, e.g. teacher absence and coverage pay. If teachers are absent more then we planned for from past years we need more dollars in the budget; and likewise if they are absent less than in the past then we have money left over. So as you can see budget dollars change.

I will say that if they take 668,000.00 next year that that will have a direct impact on instruction. That translates into 10 teacher lines; if it happens I would probably be forced to excess 5 teachers and make major cuts in peripheral programs. This will cause all classes to be full and possibly over sized and a reduction in instructional services to our struggling learners.

In addition, if they make an additional cut, which we heard might happen, this year, then we will have to excess teachers mid-year. If that happens all schools will have great difficulty.

Large Queens middle school:

This year, we’re probably going to cancel Saturday programs and cut back on sports. And we won’t be able to buy new Spanish books, which are very old. Next year, we will have to fire a dean and have fewer assistant principals. And we’ll have to cut a guidance counselor and a lab specialist. … The bottom line is we will get rid of the things we don’t absolutely need.

A report from IS 296 in Brooklyn:

Principal Maria De Los Barreto closed one entire academy.  Her school is broken down into small learning communities.  In addition, this year her school leadership team were planning to expand the technology programs with classroom smart boards and they are unable to reach this goal. … She did not open any new vacancies and she could not replace teachers that transferred out. This increased her classroom enrollment and made her class much larger this year.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”