May 13, 2014
By Stephanie West
New York, NY — Visiting parents and students at P.S. 69 in Queens on Monday May 12th, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined reforms coming to city schools. The changes were put forward by the administration in the executive budget and its contract with the United Federation of Teachers.
“These aren’t pilot programs that help a lucky few; they are foundational changes that will lift up schools in every neighborhood,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The strategic investments we are making recognize parents as true stakeholders, empower our educators and help students succeed.”
The reforms include:
A Greater Voice for Parents: The UFT contract dedicates 40 minutes every Tuesday for teachers to reach out to parents by email, letter, telephone, or face-to-face meetings. The contract also doubles the number of evening parent-teacher conferences from two to four each school year.
Alleviating Overcrowding: This budget will start to address space conditions in the city’s schools, reducing overcrowding and the use of trailers as classrooms with $4.4 billion capital investment in new space, including class size reduction. In addition, the Department of Education will devote $480 million to remove temporary classroom units and rehabilitate the play yards where they had been located.
High-Quality, Universal, Full-Day Pre-K: The executive budget launches a major expansion of full-day universal pre-K to ensure that all 4-year-olds are set up for long-term success, including $300 million for 53,000 seats in FY 2015 and $340 million for 73,000 seats in FY 2016.
More Middle School After-School Programs: The executive budget includes an investment of $145 million in FY 2015 to fund 34,000 new seats to serve nearly 100,000 middle school children.
More Arts Education: The executive budget also allocates $20 million in FY 2015 for arts education, which will be used to expand a range of art programs in schools across the city, improve art facilities, and increase partnerships with art institutions.