On top of losing the stimulus, the District faces substantial cost increases next year for salaries, pensions, utilities, debt service, and charter schools. Some sources have put the total gap at over $400 million. The District could cut all the extra money in this year's budget for its Imagine 2014 strategic plan initiatives – which Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said she won't do – and still only close half of the gap.
Former interim District CEO Philip Goldsmith, a Daily News columnist, said he doesn't understand the District's reluctance to state the size of the problem. "It's important that the public be informed of the fiscal realities of the District so it can be prepared for the consequences and help shape the discussion," he told the Notebook. "Not talking about it openly does not make the problem go away."
Goldsmith has argued that the District's budget shortfall is largely "self-inflicted."
"It has known for a very long time that this day of reckoning was likely to happen," he said. "It should have made reductions a while ago. The longer it waited, the larger the cuts would have to be in the future."