NYC Schools’ 7 Billion In Federal Relief Funds To Be Mostly Spent On Janitors?

New York City schools received hefty funding as the city plans to spend a good chunk on janitors.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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new york city schools

Last year, the federal government carved out billions of taxpayer dollars for relief within states’ battered education departments. As the most populated city in the United States, New York City schools were given more than $7 billion in relief funds. As a hefty sum, Chalkbeat recently published a report depicting where the funds will be headed, and it looks like the funding will at the least improve the sanitation initiative within the Big Apple’s public school systems.

With parents and taxpayers eager to know where the New York City school relief funds would land, Chalkbeat laid out information regarding the disbursement of the multi-billion dollar package. The city earmarked nearly half of the stimulus money for expenses this year alone, with the rest set aside for funding the 2024-2025 school years. So far, the city has spent about half of this years’ benchmarked funds.

The largest chunk looked to expand on the city’s prekindergarten program for 3-year-olds over the next several years. The New York City school relief funds also helped create more programs aimed at catching students up this year. These programs include summer enrichment programs, literacy assessments, more services for students with disabilities, and more. Altogether, the added programs were estimated to cost about $750 million.

As for the New York City school’s education department, $820 million was set aside to support custodial workers. While that information may seem puzzling, sanitation measures not only in schools but nationwide, are pivotal during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. David Diment, the custodian who is part of the small janitorial staff team that’s responsible for keeping Golden High School in Jeffco clean and safe, described the job as a front-line essential one that often goes unappreciated. With higher scrutiny on sanitation to help keep schools open during the pandemic, more funding is likely needed to keep sanitation.

new york city schools

With the New York City school relief funds slated to run out by the 2024-2025 school year, many are concerned over how exactly half of the funds have already been spent with most of the new programs set to expire. Similarly, parents are concerned about the transparency in the spending, along with how education administrators seek to measure success in the newly formed programs to aid students. Andrew Rein, the executive director of the Citizens Budget Commission also has concerns about the cities education initiatives

According to Rein, there is a major difference in outlining educational recovery costs and describing the end goal. “Not only do we have to track the dollars, but we also have to make sure the dollars deliver what the students need. How do we know that’s actually happening?” Rein said.  To combat this, the New York City schools’ education department states they have already implemented assessments to measure each student’s academic standing following the last few years’ disrupted school schedule. 

In more promising news, a large chunk of funding set aside for long-term projects inside New York City schools like mental health support and the vast expansion of the preschool program have been well received. Moreover, City officials have repeatedly said they expect the city’s revenue to drastically improve with time while alleviating parents’ concerns over the draining of city education funds.