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Budget deal saves child care spots, averts school aide layoffs

Not a single child-care slot will be lost or school aide laid off as a result of this year’s budget deal between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council.

The deal, announced late today, rolls back millions of dollars of cuts that Bloomberg proposed in his executive budget last month. Instead of losing 6,500 child-care spots and 30,000 after-school spots, the city will actually have more spots next year than this year. And although Bloomberg had slashing about 400 school aides from the city payroll — more than half as many as were laid off last year — no layoffs will take place.

DC-37, the union that represents school aides and other non-teaching school personnel, agreed to trim employees’ workdays by about half an hour in order to avert the cuts, city officials said.

The budget is “not just a plan on how to spend but also a statement about who we are as a city,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn during a celebratory press conference at City Hall. “And we are a city where every child is given the opportunity and resources to learn.”

Quinn said the city had also agreed to make changes to its EarlyLearn initiative, which aims to streamline and improve early childhood education. Council members took up criticism about EarlyLearn late last summer, after it became clear that the overhaul was likely to cost jobs and disrupt schooling for some families. They were particularly concerned that the initiative was looking at need by zip code, because economically diverse areas would lose seats. Quinn said today that the initiative would now consider need by family income rather than geographic area. She also said that the city had agreed not to strip seats from providers with longstanding relationships in local communities.

A group that formed to protest the proposed child-care cuts, Campaign for Children, applauded the budget deal in a statement. “We’re grateful that New York City’s leaders put children first in a difficult budget year, and look forward to working with them to create stable, sustainable systems going forward,” the group said.

Dominic Recchia, the city councilman who lambasted Department of Education officials last year for not giving the council adequate warning about the school aide layoffs, deserved much of the credit for making sure that no aides lost their jobs this year, Quinn said.

Last year’s budget deal came late on a Friday night and averted thousands of teacher layoffs that Bloomberg had threatened for more than six months. The City Council restored some of the cuts with its funds, and the teachers union also agreed to some concessions.

This year, the United Federation of Teachers was less involved in budget talks because the mayor’s budget proposal did not include any cuts to the city’s teaching corps. But President Michael Mulgrew joined in the chorus of plaudits nonetheless.

“I want to thank Speaker Quinn, the council members and Mayor Bloomberg for today’s budget agreement, including no layoffs of school aides, an increase in the number of teachers, and the preservation of day care services,” Mulgrew said in a statement. “This is welcome news for the children and parents of New York City.”