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Adams says NYC class-size cap is an ‘unfunded mandate’

NEW YORK (PIX11) — Days after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill capping the number of students in New York City classrooms, Mayor Eric Adams on Monday said the way it “was done was ill advised.”

The change, set to kick in one year from now, would cap class sizes at 20 students for the younger grades and 25 for most high school subjects.  Adams railed against the plan for months, saying the money to fund it would come from other critical programs.

“There’s this belief that’s really not a correct belief that the DOE is awash with cash,” Adams said about the Department of Education. “A lot of our money is tied up in pensions, in other costs. The dollar amount that’s used for education, we’re going to focus on that. And now we have to do a real analysis on if we will have to move programs. We’re not sure. The chancellor’s looking at that with his team. But when you look at the challenges we have in front of us, this decision was a major decision to make this unfunded mandate.”

Before Hochul signed the bill, New York City officials said it would cost $500 million a year for kindergarten through fifth grade classes alone. There could also be billions in capital costs for building additional schools and classroom seats. Mayor Adams has not offered up a specific number in the days since Hochul signed the bill into law.

Separately, Adams directed all city agencies to find ways to cut spending, a spokesperson said Monday. The order calls for a 3 percent cut by the end of this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, and then an additional 4.75 percent cut the following fiscal year.

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UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who represents the teachers’ union in New York City, slammed Adams’ new call for cuts.

“It is a shame that when the city has unprecedented financial reserves, the mayor calls upon his agencies to plan for budget cuts that will affect services across the city,” he said. “New York City will never rebound from the pandemic if we don’t have a better plan than this.”

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