The future of New York City Public Schools was topic No. 1 at a city budget meeting Tuesday morning.
NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks presented a school budget Tuesday for a school system that Albany could possibly vote to break up.
There are more than one million students and staff in the New York City public school system. Lawmakers in Albany are now debating whether to keep that system the same or break it up into 32 different school districts.
Pre-pandemic, in 2019, K-12 enrollment across city public schools was around 900,000 students. However, this year, it’s around 820,000. That’s a decrease of about 9%.
Some individuals, like state Sen. John Liu (D-NY), who serves on the education committee, said leaders have to take a good look at the reason behind the decline.
"It’s the lack of engagement of parents that’s led many parents in New York City to take their kids out of the New York City Public Schools system," Liu said.
However, Mayor Eric Adams is pushing to keep control of the schools saying there are distinct advantages to a centralized school system -- the way it has been for the past 20 years. Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg implemented the change and former Mayor Bill de Blasio has renewed it several times.
Adams believes a centralized system allows for better coordination including resources as well as emergency system-wide funding, like dealing with COVID-19 and virtual learning.
When discussing the fiscal year 2023 school budget, which is more than $35 billion, the chancellor supports the mayor remaining in control of the school system and is asking for the city council's support with a financial plan to move forward.
"We are acting on our promise to not only engage with this council, but to directly incorporate your feedback in hoping to shape our budgetary and policy decisions," Banks said. "That is the true partnership that we will continue to nurture."
The decision by lawmakers will be made within the next month. In the meantime, there are hundreds of thousands of families in New York City paying close attention to see what will happen to the New York City Public Schools system.