New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks is not new to the city’s public schools. But he was surprised by something when he took the top job this year.
“The first thing I didn’t fully anticipate on becoming chancellor was the lack of parental engagement – and the way parents feel disrespected, ignored, not having a seat at the table,” Banks said. .
What do you want to know
- New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks joined NY1’s “News All Day” for a one-on-one chat about his time at work so far
- Banks says he understands the budget cuts will be tough on schools next fall, but he feels the cuts are necessary
- He also explained why some students carried guns to school
In an interview on NY1’s News All Day, Banks said he was trying to change that by meeting with parent groups around town.
And as schools losing enrollment face deep budget cuts for the fall, Banks says he wants principals to know he hears them, too.
“If you have to lose a teacher or a program, it doesn’t do any good, and it’s not good for the kids and I certainly understand that, and I want them to know that – but I also know that our principals know how to make adjustments,” Banks said.
Banks says he will be there to support those directors. But he says it is not possible to continue to fund schools as if they had not lost students.
“I was just talking to a school today that has gone from 300 kids to about 45 students coming in this year. It’s a dramatic loss of students, so I can’t give them the same budget they would have had otherwise,” he said.
Banks also discussed the number of weapons found in city schools during the wide-ranging interview.
“We have seen a very significant increase in the number of students bringing weapons into schools, [but] not necessarily use them in schools,” he said.
Instead, students wear them to defend themselves on the way to school.
Banks says he is working with community groups to find ways to help keep students safe.
“It’s not about having more officers in uniform. It’s really about getting these credible messengers from the communities who can really come in and get involved,” he said.
Looking ahead, the city is set to launch two new virtual academies for ninth graders this fall — students can apply until July 6.
“We’ve heard from many families saying, ‘my child did well virtually and did well and academically it did very well’, [so] why can’t they continue to go to school virtually?” Banks said.
The academies will serve two hundred ninth graders – and will be what Banks called innovation labs, providing best practice should all schools have to walk away again.
And while school is closed for the summer, 110,000 children will be in classrooms for Summer Rising, the optional summer school program which started on Tuesday.
“They’re going to be engaged in all sorts of rigorous academic experiences at the start of the day – and in the second part of the day they’re going to have a lot of fun,” he said.