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Construction waste: fiscal woes continue to haunt New York schools. (News connection: up-to-date and usable education information from schools, government, business, research and professional organizations).

New York City schools are facing a staggering $2.8 billion shortfall in its five-year, $7 billion construction budget, which led to the firing of Patricia Zedalis, the school system's facilities director.

The deficit is proving to be a major embarrassment to the district--the nation's largest--and its Chancellor Harold Levy, partly because it was about $800 million higher than state officials had originally estimated it.

Levy, hand-picked by Mayor Rudy Giuliani less than 18 months ago following the evacuation by former chancellor Rudy Crew, has inherited a school system that would appear to be running on fumes, despite his best efforts to clean it up.

"I find it incredibly troubling," Levy told the New York Post of the huge budget gap. "Some projects will undoubtedly need to be pushed into the next five-year plan, absent additional funding."

State investigators reviewed the budget and blamed Zedalis for the shortfall. At press time, the facilities director position had been eliminated entirely and Levy proposed the facilities capital planning functions should fall under the School Construction Authority.

According to published reports, staffer Cheryl Hood Francis, a senior official in its Office of Strategic Planning, could also be in trouble. Francis told state investigators that there had been a $220 million "double-count" of school-construction funds from the mayor and city council. Francis reported directly to Zedalis.

Board officials have maintained that there was no such double counting. "Part of the problem is that there's been quarreling and bickering between the two agencies (School Construction Authority and Division of School Facilities--Zedalis' former group) that's gone on for too long," Levy was quoted as saying.
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Title Annotation:Patricia Zedalis fired
Author:Branch, Al
Publication:District Administration
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:269
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