Transforming Public Education: Mayor de Blasio Outlines Major School Reforms in Executive Budget and Teachers' Contract

May 12, 2014

Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-8zn5vEHHk

More parent-teacher time each week, $4.4 billion to ease school overcrowding, pre-K for over 50,000 children, after-school for 100,000 more middle schoolers

NEW YORK—Visiting parents and students at P.S. 69 in Queens today, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined major reforms coming to city schools. The sweeping changes were put forward by the administration in the executive budget and its contract with the United Federation of Teachers, and will fundamentally improve the education of hundreds of thousands of students. 

The reforms address some of the most vital needs in our schools, from devoting 40 minutes each week to dedicated parent-teacher interaction, to $4.4 billion in capital funds to ease overcrowding, to fulfilling the Mayor’s pledge to dramatically expand pre-K and after-school programs.  

Mayor de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm emphasized these fundamental changes would improve public education across the whole school system.

“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.”

“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. The teachers’ contract and the reforms embedded in the Mayor’s executive budget reflect tremendous progress to restore dignity, opportunity and empower our city’s parents, schoolchildren, teachers and principals,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

“By instituting these reforms, Mayor de Blasio has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that all of the students in our city’s public school system receive a high-quality education,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “I commend the Mayor, Chancellor Fariña, and the United Federation of Teachers for working together to implement reforms that are in the best interest of our kids.”

“I’m glad to see the administration making the necessary investments to help every New York City student reach their full potential,” said Congressman Joe Crowley. “Smaller classroom sizes, increased parental involvement, and a well-rounded education that embraces the arts are the things that will put our children on a path to success. We owe it to them to make the one opportunity they have at a great education the best it can be.”

“Mayor de Blasio’s budget represents a big win for the children in our public school system,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “By focusing on kids, their parents, and their teachers, Mayor de Blasio’s education plan focuses on a well-rounded education by bringing greater resources to every school including significant funding to increase access to the arts in every neighborhood. The learning environment is critical, and I applaud the Mayor for allocating capital dollars to tackle overcrowding to replace old temporary portable classrooms. With universal pre-K expanded, along with parental involvement, all of these changes bode well for the future of our kids and our city.”

“Mayor de Blasio has quickly brought important reform to our public schools,” said City Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “Instituting universal pre-kindergarten, expanding middle school after-school programs, and dedicating $20 million to increase arts programs are all things that will help ensure that this generation of public school students will succeed. I am most pleased that educators and parents were included in the decision making process. As a former New York City public school teacher for 25 years, I can’t stress enough how important this is to guaranteeing the success of these reforms.”

The reforms discussed today 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 unprecedented 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.


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