Because state law requires the city to give the public 45 days’ notice before its Panel for Educational Policy votes to approve the Department of Education’s estimated budget? and because the schools budget estimate is contingent on the mayor’s executive budget, which typically comes out at the end of April? and because schools need to know how much money they’re getting by early June, and ideally sooner (late allocations to schools during the pandemic were a huge headache for principals and teachers) — for all these reasons, and to allow some semblance of orderly planning in the nation’s largest school system, Chancellor David Banks on May 3 issued an emergency order letting the estimated budget be adopted so schools could get to work preparing for the fall.
Given the crazy and conflicting calendars, every chancellor has issued such an order every year since 2016. State law gives him or her wide discretion to determine what constitutes an emergency.
Despite all this, and despite the City Council holding hearings and approving the budget as a connected whole, Acting Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank has just agreed with plaintiffs and ruled that Banks misused the emergency declaration — and the education budget is void. It falls now to the Council to vote again on the spending plan for just this one department, or revert to last year’s.
Parents, you know who to blame if and when chaos engulfs the start of the school year on Sept. 8.