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The city Department of Education (DOE) needs to go on a diet.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn believes the department should drastically slash funding for administrative costs at its central headquarters in Manhattan’s famed Tweed Courthouse.
“Quite frankly, I think there should be more cuts to DOE administration,” Quinn said at a roundtable with reporters at Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue.
Quinn was discussing the recent passing of the fiscal year 2009 city budget which actually did include cuts to DOE bureaucracy.
The deal that the City Council negotiated with Mayor Michael Bloomberg nixed the $99 million in funding cuts slated for schools but kept $200 million in cuts for the DOE’s administrative unit at Tweed.
The DOE says that it has tried to limit its administrative and bureaucratic costs so money can be redirected to classrooms.
During the last two fiscal years, the DOE says it cut $230 million from the bureaucracy and sent the money to schools.
Quinn said there should also be changes to the way the DOE hires companies for outside services.
In recent years, the department has offered no-bid contracts to individual companies. Critics argue that if several companies were involved in negotiations, the costs for the DOE would decline.
Quinn said the DOE could start with school buses.
“We’re the only major urban city in the country that doesn’t bid [contracts for] school buses,” she said.
“Competitive bid almost always brings lower prices,” she added. “Let’s start that process now so we can eventually save.”
The DOE has argued that no-bid contracts allow services to be provided quickly and by the most qualified companies.
Parents have also criticized no-bid contracts and the DOE’s use of pricey consultants.
“The consultants that you’re paying millions of dollars to – you have members on the [Community Education] Councils that can do the same job,” James Dandridge, president of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC), has asserted.
“Use the volunteers that you have in the city to act as consultants,” he said. “That’s a way to save money.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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