New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended school closures for another two weeks on Friday, when he also revealed billions in expected cuts to the state education budget to combat the coronavirus.
Cuomo told reporters the state has lost between $10 billion and $15 billion in tax revenues because of the outbreak and complained the federal government did not replace the money, WHEC reports.
“We’re going to have to cut education aid because that’s the number one expense,” Cuomo said, adding that federal funds to fight coronavirus can’t be diverted for other uses.
“But the main expense for the state is education. [The federal government] knows that. So when they didn’t give the state funding all they did was cut the education budget to the state of New York which is a tragedy,” he said.
The governor also extended the state’s school closure from April 1 to April 15, though he conceded the shutdown could last much longer, the Rome Sentinel reports.
“I don’t do this joyfully, but I think that when you look at where we are, when you look at the number of cases still increasing, it only makes sense to keep the schools closed,” Cuomo said, promising to reassess the situation in two weeks.
“If the numbers continue this way, yes in all likelihood we’ll extend it another two weeks,” he said.
The situation is bad news for the Rochester school districts and others teetering on financial collapse.
Rochester Superintendent Terry Dade told WHEC the district was banking on a $35 million bailout from the state this year, as well as a $4 million increase in state aid.
Rochester is already facing a $66 million budget shortfall and an initial draft of the 2020-21 budget includes 236 staffing cuts, including 192 teachers, as well as cuts to special education, bilingual education, the central office, and several special programs.
“My concern is we won’t even receive the $4.5 million that we anticipate in this proposed budget,” Dade said. “My fear is that I have to go back to the community as early as next week or the week after with a revised budget that could have additional reductions built into it.”
Regardless, district officials plan to purchase Chromebooks for all of the district’s elementary school students to help facilitate online learning, he said.
The situation in New York comes as coronavirus deaths hit 1,000, with more than 230 deaths in the last 24 hours, CNN reports.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York is quickly approaching 60,000, with 7,200 coming in just the last day.
The Trump administration sent the U.S. Navy ship Comfort to Manhattan harbor over the weekend to expand the city’s capacity to treat coronavirus victims by 1,000.
Private groups have also set up a field hospital in Central Park to help area hospitals handle the pandemic.
The New York Post reports:
Samaritan’s Purse — which is led by Franklin Graham, son of the late televangelist Billy Graham — trucked in four trailers of gear, including tents, beds, personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators for the most seriously ill.
A team of 70 health care workers from around the US will be led by Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, who’s previously treated Ebola patients in West Africa, Syrian refugees in Iraq and earthquake victims in Ecuador.