Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $90 billion city budget proposal includes millions of dollars for homeless students and to fuel a push to get every student reading on grade level by third grade.
The mayor’s official budget reveal comes after a major announcement Wednesday that the city will invest $125 million in schools, which principals can spend on items such as teacher salaries, after-school programs or new technology.
Taken together, the news means that New York City schools have avoided any budget cuts — and instead received a sizeable boost — in a year of funding uncertainty.
De Blasio took several shots at state lawmakers while unveiling his budget, emphasizing that the city invested in schools even as they received less than they anticipated in school funding from Albany.
“This certainly shows that even when Albany steps back, we step forward,” de Blasio said.
Here’s what you need to know about education:
$30.5 million to boost literacy
De Blasio has said he wants his new schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, to “supercharge” his “universal literacy” program, which is attempting to help every third grade student read on grade level. On Thursday, de Blasio shed a little light on what he meant by outlining a plan to help the city’s neediest students.
The mayor’s plan would double after-school programs for students in shelters; provide more training for teachers of students learning English and students with disabilities; and boost the number of literacy coaches in low-performing schools.
De Blasio said that, though it hasn’t captured headlines, the city’s universal literacy program is going to be a focus for him moving forward. “This is one of the things the chancellor and I talked about the most during the interview process,” he said.
$12 million for social workers for students in shelters
The executive budget restores funding for homeless students that the preliminary budget lacked. For the past two years, de Blasio has left the funding stream out of his preliminary budget — drawing criticism from advocates.
That city’s budget will fund 53 social workers, according to Randi Levine, a policy director at Advocates for Children. Advocates have been calling for 150 social workers that would be spread out across schools and in shelters.
$23 million for anti-bias training
In the next school year, the city expects to train 10,000 education department employees, with the goal of reaching everyone in the department by the 2021-22 school year. The plan includes identifying schools that are adept in culturally relevant teaching so they can share their practices with other educators, and digging into data to uncover and address inequities in schools.
Derrick Owens, a father of two in Harlem, said he expects the expanded training will have a real impact in the classroom and help change the fact that students of color are disproportionately disciplined at school. Owens is a member of the Coalition for Educational Justice, a parent organization that has lobbied hard for more anti-bias training for teachers.
“Now what happens with the anti-bias training, teachers can identify a problem,” he said. “They won’t be quick to have the child disciplined or suspended. They’ll be able to work it out and able to solve the problem. I think it’s a win win.”
A “surprising” lack of funding from Albany
In his latest critique of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, de Blasio said the city expected to get $140 million in school aid from state lawmakers that never materialized. The state increased education spending by about $1 billion this year, but the boost was less than the city expected, de Blasio said.
“It was honestly very surprising that the number came in as low as it did,” de Blasio said.
Christina Veiga contributed reporting.