Reopening NYC schools has cost $767 million: de Blasio

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Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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Mayor de Blasio put a price tag Thursday on the city’s efforts to reopen the nation’s largest school system: $767 million.

De Blasio’s budget director Jacques Jiha shared the figure with state legislators Thursday as part of the city’s lobbying for increased state aid.

“We really set a gold standard for health and safety, but it’s a costly endeavor to do it right,” Hizonner said of the school reopening price tag.

“It’s been worth it. Hundreds of thousands of kids and their families have benefited. But it is a very costly enterprise,” he said. “We’re only about halfway through the school year.”

A pot of $348 million has gone towards some of the safety and staffing requirements of operating in-person classes during the pandemic. That includes personal protective equipment for kids and staff, extra nurses, substitute teachers to fill staffing shortfalls and cleaning supplies, a mayoral spokeswoman said.

A DOE budget document from September indicated the agency gave schools $88 million for additional staff.

Another $327 million has gone towards the 450,000 internet-enabled iPads the DOE purchased for tech-strapped families, officials said. Officials didn’t specify why costs associated with remote learning were categorized as “reopening” expenses.

Ninety-three million dollars went toward the city’s Learning Bridges childcare program, which provides childcare for students in preschool to eighth grade on days they can’t attend in-person classes.

It wasn’t immediately clear why officials didn’t include the price of weekly school COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program, a critical part of the city’s plan to maintain in-person learning, as part of the cost of reopening schools. Officials didn’t immediately say how much that program costs.

A spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio said the city has added $516 million of the total $767 million in projected school-related COVID-19 costs to the budget.

The disclosure was part of city officials’ budget lobbying efforts with state legislators. De Blasio urged the state to pass along the full $2.1 billion in federal stimulus funds for city schools while preserving past levels of state aid, rather than using nearly $800 million of the federal funds to plug an equally-sized cut in state aid.