Levy Explodes Over Funding

Trades salvos with Rudy on bilingual ed shortfall

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said yesterday he was fed up with having to manage a sprawling school system without being given enough funding ? and vowed to “get even.”

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy says city hasn’t come up with $19.5 million for bilingual education, but he’s not getting mayor?s sympathy.

The former Citigroup executive blew his stack after city officials slammed him for complaining that a planned bilingual education overhaul is in jeopardy unless he gets $75 million.

“I’ve about had it with this business of ‘Well, but you can do it if you only tried.’ At some point you’ve got to say, ‘Enough already,'” Levy fumed.

“You could hire the head of General Electric [Jack Welch], the greatest manager in America. He’s not going to do it without resources,” he added.

But Levy, who took the top schools job in January 2000, said he wasn’t ready to quit.

“I’m not going to give up. I am going to get even,” he said before stepping into a waiting car.

Mayor Giuliani had little sympathy for Levy’s money woes.

“They have a $12.3 billion budget,” Giuliani said.

“If they can’t figure out where to find $20 million [the city’s share, $19.5 million of the $75 million total] in a $12.3 billion budget, that may be even worse than all the overspending they did on construction,” he added, referring to a projected $1.9 billion shortfall in the school construction budget.

The harsh words were the latest between Levy and Giuliani, whose relationship has been strained in recent months.

“They mayor and the chancellor are at each other’s throats,” said teachers union head Randi Weingarten.

Levy touched off the latest budget debate Monday by warning the Board of Education that the overhaul of bilingual education was at risk because the city had not provided the $19.5 million he requested.

He threatened to join Hispanic groups if they sue the city for more bilingual funds ? but later back-pedaled, saying it would be up to the seven-member Board of Ed to make that decision.

Without a state budget in place, Levy said he also had no idea whether Albany would kick in the additional $50 million needed to offer students new English-intensive programs.

In addition, $5 million in funding from other sources hasn’t materialized, he said.

“The truth is we are not getting enough money to do this well,” he said. “The state needs to step up to the plate, and so do other actors.”

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