Both the budget and the teachers contract address large issues within city schools, such as overcrowding and universal pre-K, both of which have allocated funds in the proposed executive budget.
The Department of Education is also devoting $480 million to remove trailers that are being used as classrooms throughout the city.
“We are making unprecedented investments in our children through an historic expansion of universal pre-K, and ensuring that from early education through high school, our focus is on preparing students for the future,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said.
Middle school after-school programs are also receiving a boost from the executive budget, with $145 million going towards 34,000 new spots in the programs.
“These aren’t pilot programs that help a lucky few, they are foundational changes that will lift up schools in every neighborhood,” de Blasio said. “The strategic investments we are making recognize parents as true stakeholders, empower our educators and help students succeed.”
The UFT contract will address parents’ involvement, as it gives teachers 40 minutes each week to dedicate to interaction with parents.
Lavern Maison, a parent of a P.S. 69 student and an after-school director in District 30, thanked the mayor for the reforms and funding.
“I'm really excited that the mayor's here supporting arts education, paying attention to some of the issues that we have been working on so hard in the educational council, such as overcrowding in our schools,” Maison said.
“A little over a year ago, Mayor de Blasio – at that point, Advocate de Blasio – came to the school that I was working in, I.S. 126, and promised that if he was elected, he would expand middle school after-school programs,” Maison added. “And he did. So I want to say thank you for that, and for sticking to your promises.”
She also spoke about the importance of arts education for her daughter, who is in kindergarten. The mayor’s executive budget allocates $20 million for arts education in schools across the city.
Her sentiment was echoed by many of the elected officials present, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who also serves as chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee.
“We want to make sure that the city is one where there’s equity and there’s access to the arts for everybody, every child in every school in every neighborhood,” Van Bramer said. “And this plan starts us down that path, because if you have arts in our schools, in every single neighborhood, in every single class, we get to that very, very special and magical place where every child experiences the power and wonder of the arts.”