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In Bloomberg's final budget proposal, a perpetual fight returns

Mayor Bloomberg’s final budget, which he is unveiling today, is likely to include new details on how changes to the city’s state school aid will affect the Department of Education.

In January, when Bloomberg made his preliminary budget proposal, the city faced losing $250 million because it had not agreed on a teacher evaluation system with its union. Bloomberg said the bulk of the cuts would come from individual schools.

But wrangling in Albany resulted in the city’s state school funding being revised upward, even though the teacher evaluation penalty was not technically rescinded. That means the Department of Education’s budget might be in the best shape it has been since the start of a series of recession-induced budget cuts in 2008.

But the funding picture for other programs and departments that affect children is likely to be less sunny. Bloomberg’s initial budget proposal included steep cuts to after-school and child care programs, just as he originally proposed last year.

The City Council averted last year’s proposed cuts — 30,000 after-school slots and 6,500 early childhood slots — with a last-minute funding restoration in what has become an annual ritual.

The Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 nonprofit and community groups formed to oppose last year’s proposed cuts, isn’t leaving anything up to chance. The group recruited more than 50 education professors to write to Bloomberg to protest cuts to after-school and child care programs.

“We are in the business of preparing teachers to be effective in the classroom,” the professors write. “However, we know that school success is not based on teachers’ skills alone, but also on children’s early development and children’s experiences after the school bell rings each day. Cutting children from these programs will impede the progress of our schools.”

We’ll have more about the mayor’s budget proposal later today. The professors’ complete letter is below.

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