Millions in unnecessary spending by DOE while they’re cutting school budgets

Dear Friends,

1. A week ago, I looked at the DOE contracts that the Panel for Educational Policy were being asked to vote on at their monthly meeting, scheduled for tonight. The list included hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, including $200 million to pay for busing services in March, with an automatic extension of another $200 million for April, despite the fact that the DOE has not used any busing since mid-March when schools were closed. Moreover, the DOE’s implication was that they intended to be pay for busing through the end of June, at an estimated cost of $700 million.

I reached out with this information to elected officials, including the NYC Comptroller, who wrote an excellent letter to the DOE Chancellor on Friday, questioning why he wanted to renew these busing contracts, given that the DOE is not using busing at this time and that these contracts contain a Force Majeure clause, allowing either partner to withdraw in the case of extraordinary circumstances, including epidemics. All this spending is especially incomprehensible considering the fiscal crisis the city faces, which has led Mayor to propose cuts of more than $800 million from the education budget next year.

Then on Sunday, we heard from several PEP members that their meeting scheduled for today was postponed to next Wed. April 29 at 6 PM, to allow for more discussions.

For more on this issue and other questionable DOE spending, check out two articles by Sue Edelman of the NY Post here and here; I’ve also written more about this on my blog, here and here.

We have now drafted a letter to PEP members, urging them to ask the DOE questions about this and other seemingly unnecessary contracts on next week’s agenda, and if they don’t get answers to their satisfaction, to vote to reject them.

If your CEC or organization would like to sign onto this letter, please let me know by tomorrow Thursday no later than noon. Just reply to this message or email us at with your name, organization and position. If you support this effort as an individual, I urge you to contact your borough representative on the PEP; their contact information is here.

2. This morning I interviewed three NYC teachers, Bobson Wong, Liat Olenick and Katie Lapham, on the challenges they’re experiencing with remote learning and what successes they’ve had, as well as how they think students should be graded this year. I also asked them how schools should be restructured next year to make it the best academic year ever, as the Mayor has said he wants it to be. The podcast is posted here; please check it out!

Talk to you soon, Leonie

Categories Newsletters, Updates | Tags: | Posted on April 23, 2020

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