June 5, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I want to thank our host, Principal Lisa Esposito, for having us here today, and for all the wonderful work she does. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, who you'll hear from in a moment. And you're going to hear about our special guest in a moment as well. And of course, I want to thank Assembly member – I'm sorry, Councilmember, I was one title before – Councilmember Alan Maisel, whose district we're in. It's great to be here, and welcome. And it's – obviously, after the others speak, you're more than welcome to speak if you just have anything you'd like to throw in. And you can stand with us, if you like.
So this is a day we've talked about, a big day for parents all over the city, a day that I remember very vividly, when Chirlane and I were waiting for a letter that would tell us whether, first Chiara, and then Dante, got in to full-day pre-k. So, all over the city, starting today, parents will be getting letters informing them the results of the applications they made by April 23rd for spaces – pre-k in public school buildings. And starting today, some parents are going to find out that yes, they got a space, others will find out they didn't get their first choice. But of course, they have a lot of other options, and we want to talk about that today.
But what's so important today is that 4,500 more parents will have full-day seats in our city schools in pre-k coming in September that exist right now. So this is a very happy day for New York City. 4,500 more families will be served with full-day pre-k in the public school buildings starting in September than are now. Again, contextualizing the overall numbers – we're going to go from 20,000 full-day pre-k seats overall, all kinds, at this point, to over 50,000 starting in September. One of the key components is the spaces in the public school buildings, and those, per say, there will be 4,500 more than existed previously. And this is a day when a lot of parents are going to find out if they were able to get one of those new seats.
We know there's going to some really happy families today. We know there's going to be other families who are looking for the next step in the process and the next opportunity, and that's why we want to emphasize – for those for whom this day represents the culmination of what they hoped for, we want to congratulate them, and I want to say to all the parents who are getting pre-k placements today, congratulations. That's a great step forward for your family. For those now looking for the next step – in the very same envelope will be the application for the community-based options. And I'm going to keep saying it all through the rest of the school year. We want parents to apply for any and all of the community-based options that make sense for them. There's a huge number of high-quality options available all over the city. Parents can apply for as many as they like, and that's going to make a huge difference in their lives.
Now, let's talk about what this means for a family. I know for Chirlane and I, it was a difference maker of a huge magnitude, for Chiara and Dante to have full-day pre-k. We saw very quickly the impact it made in their lives, and how much better it made all of our lives, and how much of a love of learning it gave them. It gave them that incredible spark, that incredible beginning.
Here at the Floyd Bennett School, there were, this year, 36 full-day pre-k seats. Because of our pre-k initiative, there will now be 72 full-day pre-k seats – a doubling. And so, finally, more families will have opportunity. You're going to hear, in a little bit, from Delnaye Cadogan, who is anxiously awaiting the result for his daughter, Odianne, who is right here with Clifford. Odianne is accompanied by Clifford, and we welcome Clifford as well.
Delnaye is going to tell you more about his story, but he immigrated from the Caribbean. He works as a security guard. And he very much wants the best for his three children, and he has his own very strong vantage point on what early childhood education means, and he's going to tell you that in a moment. And he's eager to get Odianne into pre-k. So, as one of the virtues of my office, I have the official letter that his family is about to receive, and you are going to see live before you – like at the Oscars – the opening of the letter.
I'm on the edge of my seat.
Mayor: We feel good about the odds.
What is it? Would you step to the microphone and read those first two lines, please?
Delnaye Cadogan: "Thank you for submitting a pre-k application to the New York City Department of Education. We are pleased to offer your child free pre-k placement at the following program for 2014-15 school year." Thank you.
Mayor: And where is that location?
Delnaye Cadogan: Floyd Bennett. P.S. 203.
Mayor: Congratulations. I'll bring you up in just one moment for your formal remarks. You saw it here first, people. This is the real thing, the genuine article, and that is the beginning of a world of opportunity for this beautiful young lady. It is an exciting day. Again, a lot of families are going to have a message today that gives them a clear straightforward path. For other families, we want to make it very simple what to do next. They'll have the application form in the letter. It's that same form we use for any pre-k center that we sponsor anywhere in the city. It can be mailed in. It can be brought to a center. Parents can apply online. They can call 311. They can text [inaudible] 77877. Again, online application, they can apply as of this moment, online. By the way, first day of live online applications was Tuesday. We got 520 applications in one day, the first day we were up. nyc.gov/pre-k. So, online application works, going in person to one of the local pre-k centers work – all of them listed online – sending the application to the DOE. We will make sure we get that address in front of us. Let's make sure we have that real quick, and we can go over that with people. There are so many great options, and people can apply for as many as possible. The important thing is to apply quickly to maximize opportunity. That's the word we want to get out to parents all over the city. I talked to hundreds of parent coordinators, and principals, and district family advocates yesterday. They're all going to be deeply involved in the effort to work with parents to make sure that they have all the information they need so they can apply and maximize their children's options. With that, let's first hear from our Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, who is doing a fantastic job leading this effort.
Deputy Mayor Richard Buery: So, just very briefly – this is very exciting – I’m actually a little, I’m a little [inaudible] actually. This is very exciting. I want to congratulate all the families today who are going to get great news, and especially Odianne, who is so adorable it's very difficult to speak, she's so adorable. A little shy. It is a really exciting day, and I just want to reiterate what the Mayor said. For those parents who are getting a letter, that have the news that they were looking for – congratulations. We all know how important early childhood education is to a young person’s long-term development. Not only their academic development, but their social development, their emotional development – we know what it means to working parents to have a safe place for your child to go to school.
But just to reiterate for those parents who did not get quite the news – who are not going to get quite the news they were looking for today – they didn’t get their first match, they didn’t get a match – what I want you to know is that there are tremendous array of options available to you in the family. In your letter, you will get an application that can be used at any community-based early childhood center around the city. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for this process. You can mail it to: Pre-K, Tweed Court House, 52 Chambers Street, New York NY 10007. You can submit an application online by going to nyc.gov/prek where there are great tools – where there are great tools to find a community-based early childhood center near your home or near your work. I happen to know there are other great community-based early childhood centers near this school. So if parents did not get into here, there are other options near here. You can walk into your local school, and ask your parent coordinators to help. We’ve been working to make sure parent coordinators at all of our schools can help walk families through the process.
So again, whether or not you got your match today, you should know that we have great resources for you, either in schools or community-based early childhood centers. So, congratulations again.
Mayor: All right. So now we’re going to hear from the man himself, about this great day for his family.
Delnaye Cadogan: Good afternoon everyone. I wrote a little [inaudible]. First of all, thank you, Mr. Mayor, for the opportunity of having my child enrolled into the early childhood program. And my name, as they said, is Mr. Delnaye Cadogan.
Mayor: Spell it for everyone, just to make their lives easier.
Delnaye Cadogan: Delnaye. D-E-L-N-A-Y-E. Cadogan. C-A-D-O-G-A-N. I work in New York as a security guard, and the reason for that, is to have my children get a good education and a better life. And nothing is more important to me than to make sure that they get that. My reason for coming here today is because of the program that the Mayor has introduced, and I am pleased with it, because I’ve seen the impact of it in the Caribbean, as compared to America. I, before migrating to America, I used to teach at nursery, which was some 3 years to 5 years, and then I went over to the secondary – not secondary, primary – which is from 6 to 12 plus. And the kids that came from the nursery, that had the foundation, they were all deemed excellent somewhere or the other – because they were exposed to math, science, reason and language, social studies, rules. And they were also able to socialize at an early age, as compared to the kids here, where– I’ve seen them – they’re struggling, and with this [inaudible] that has been put in place, it will help them to, not play catch-up in life, but to get the concepts in early and they’ll be able to excel.
I have three kids, one 10, one 6, and one 3 plus which is Odianne. The 10-year-old, he was never exposed to this, and he is struggling. I have to be going over many times and they [inaudible] because I’m in school, so it’s a struggle for him. The 6-year-old, she was in [inaudible] she got one year, just like [inaudible] one year. Only Odelia, Ms Lobia, and Ms. – I forget her name. Ms. Sanders.They can tell you that, they always keep telling me every time I’m around, oh – she is fine, she is doing well, she is this, she is that – wonderful, that is [inaudible] because she had that step in life. I think that everyone should be able to get that step for their kids, so that they won’t be struggling. They will be wonderful like, the other teachers, you know, [inaudible] step, you know. That’s why I’m so happy that Odelia – Odianne’s been given this chance to get the step that Odelia has. Because I don’t want it to be the same thing for, like [inaudible] doing struggling in class, and I have to be there helping him, helping him, on and on. I’m not saying it’s a one-party thing, you know, everybody involved, but this move is a positive move and we should all accept it and embrace it.
Thanks again Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Thank you. Congratulations. And keep that letter. Make sure you keep that letter. And you taught in Guyana? And, that’s where you grew up. I want to now, thank a man who’s been a great support to our agenda, pre-K and other elements of our agenda – he represents this community so well – Councilmember Alan Maisel.
Councilmember Alan Maisel: Thank you Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: A former school teacher.
Councilmember Maisel: A school teacher, assistant principal, school board member – education has been, basically been a part of my life for the last 40 years. But let me welcome you to District 22, and PS 203 with Ms. Esposito as the principal. This is one of our great schools, and I should tell you – and this is very significant – District 22 was the first district in the state of New York to have pre-K programs. District 18 to District 22, back in 1976, so it’s very fitting that you’re here, Mr. Mayor. We didn’t have all-day in those days, but we had half-day. It took us a long time to get it, but now it’s here. And I want you to know – I really feel this, very, very profoundly that, eight years from now, when your administration becomes a part of the history of New York City, this pre-K move, will probably the most significant thing that any mayor could do. You’ll have had more effect on the lives of the people of our city in putting four-year-olds into a pre-K program, than almost anything that could be done. So, I thank you very much.
Mayor: Thank you, thank you. I do want to note, if you’ll both just move over here for a moment, that Odianne has now created a whole setup here. She’s got a whole world happening. Clifford is now hanging out with Babar. It’s a whole scene over there. [laughs] So, just one more moment, en Español, and we’ll take on-topic, followed by off-topic.
[The mayor speaks in Spanish]
And that also fits with a theme that we are putting out today with the applications for the community-based centers, and all opportunity starts now is one of the phrases we’re using. I want to emphasize to parents all over the city – tremendous opportunity for their children, in locations all over the city. For some, it may be in their neighborhood, near their neighborhood. For others it may closer to where they work. But there's a lot of opportunity available right now. We want all parents to apply. We certainly want to make sure they apply before the school year is over on June 26th. With that, let's take any on-topic questions first. Rich.
Question: Mayor, do you have any idea of what percentage of the available seats have been spoken for so far, in the overall?
Mayor: Well, certainly for the additional 4,500 seats in the public schools, literally almost every one of them has been snapped up. There's still a few that are going through the remainder of the process, but essentially, we're going to be at 100% utilization of those seats very, very shortly. So, today, the vast majority of letters will go out. A few will come after. But we can say that all those seats will be taken, and then that will bring – again, I'm going to keep working through the numbers, because I want to make sure I'm not confusing folks. Right now, in New York City, there are 20,000 full-day pre-k seats in every kind of program combined, the city's sponsors. With our new increase in the DOE buildings alone, we will get to the 20,000 number. We added 4,500 more full-day seats. We'll get to 20,000 full-day seats in DOE buildings. There will be 33,000 more in a variety of other settings. So, we know the DOE, effectively, entirely subscribed now – that in terms of the community-based, thousands of acceptances have occurred already, but we're obviously dealing with many, many organizations. We're going to have updated numbers by next week on that. But we – from everything we're seeing, demand is very high, across the board, and we expect very strong utilization.
Question: Mr. Mayor, can you explain how the waiting lists would work, if you've got your third choice, you can still stay on the waitlist for your first or second choice?
Mayor: Yeah, I can speak as a parent, and Rich, feel free to jump in. I mean, look, in any of the situations with our public school buildings, by definition, you may have some movement. Families move. You know, someone got a different opportunity that they prefer to take. Some places, for example, there may be something offered at one of these community-based centers that a parent prefers, and they choose that option and actually end up turning down the local public school option. So, in the end there's always, by definition, some movement, and therefore some seats continue to open up. That's where people have an opportunity to move up the list. So clearly, for any parent, my advice – I'm going to speak from my own personal experience – is apply to every one of these community-based options that makes sense for you, and of course, keep monitoring in case there is suddenly an opening in your local school because somebody moved. But do all of the above to maximize opportunity.
On topic, yes.
Question: Is there a [inaudible] this year, compared to last year, like the –
Mayor: With the DOE seats, absolutely. Do you know the number offhand?
Deputy Mayor Buery: So there were 41,000 applications from parents this year. That's about a 35 percent increase over what we saw last year. So we really did see a significant increase in demand so far, and that's just for the public school applications.
Question: [inaudible] the number of, sorry, the number of last year's – even in DOE schools?
Mayor: Again, the 4,500 new full-day seats this year, this coming year, compared to the coming year, and that brings us to a grand total, in the public school buildings, of 20,000. Full-day.
Question: You said there was going to be some more public pre-k seats identified. I'm wondering if you have an idea how many, and whether they'll be announced before the June 20th deadline for registering at the –
Mayor: So let me – it's a good question. Let me go over these numbers, and you're going to help me out. So, roughly, now – again, everything is a big complicated system, a lot of moving parts, but here's the simplest way to say it. We've essentially spoken for the 20,000 in the public school buildings. There almost all subscribed now – again, a little bit of late movement, but basically of them subscribed now. We have, now approved by the PEP, 25,000 community-based seats. Those are all, right now, going to application process. Again, some have already been – the applications been completed, the seat has been assigned – most are getting the applications in now. So you're going to have those 25,000, bringing you to now 45,000. There's a remainder of up to 8,000, and that is going to be a combination of additional community-based sites that have been approved, because of the ongoing approval and inspection process is happening – and, we are still finding some public schools that are making space available, that are realigning some of their space to open up options. Now, one classroom is about 18 kids, so every time, you know, a public school finds an additional classroom, that's 18 more kids that will have opportunity in the public school buildings. So, I would say at this point, the next vote of the PEP will be June –
Unknown: I don't have the date.
Mayor: Ok. So, in this month, there's going to be another infusion. I would say that will be at least 5,000 seats at this moment, between all the different sources – public buildings, community-based, et cetera. So again, that will take our number up to about 50, there will be still some finishing thereafter. But so far, the numbers are moving very nicely. Parents – what we're trying to say to parents is, anything – you know, you go online right now, you'll see it, you get a list of all the available options – anything that works for you, apply for. If more options then come up thereafter, you can keep applying. It's a rolling process. But right now we can say that 45,000 out of the projected 53,000 are available to parents right now.
Question: One third of parents [inaudible] get an offer in the public school round. Is there any significance to the geography of where they are, or the way it breaks down in terms of need?
Mayor: We need to analyze that. Obviously, we're just finishing this round of the application process, so I have not gotten that report yet, and that's a great question. That's the kind of thing I like to get reports on, and I know we will be talking about that in our next pre-k planning meeting. I think we know – the one thing we can say about supply and demand that's pretty clear already – the overcrowded districts in the traditional public schools are obviously a challenge because we don't have as much space to play with, by definition. So right now, it's quite clear – central Queens is a great example. We have an overcrowding problem, previously – it of course affects our ability to provide the pre-k seats as well. That's an area where I think you're going to find more demand than can be accommodated locally, and people are going to have to think more about whether they want to go a neighborhood or two away, whether they want to find a seat closer to their work, perhaps. But in terms of demand patterns across the city, we need to do a little more analysis and then we can let you know that.
Question: Mayor, some of these pre-k classes will be in religious institutions. You're trying to ensure that no religious teaching is done – how do you ensure that? What kind of a process is used?
Mayor: Remember – first of all, there is a history, previously, with the pre-k, before this administration, having the involvement of catholic schools, and jewish schools – Yeshivas – so there is a history of how to do this, and how to do it properly. What's the number one enforcement reality? If a program is found out of compliance in any serious way, they won't be allowed to continue thereafter to receive the opportunity. So I think all of the programs that participate know that their ongoing relationship with the city depends on sticking to the rules. And I think that's a very big deal to them, and they have every motivation to, and I think they're in a contractual arrangement, and they take it very, very seriously. But we will, on top of that, be doing ongoing monitoring, as we will with all the programs, of the quality control educationally – you know, the quality control both of the educational dynamics, and the physical dynamics. So as I mentioned a couple days ago, we have a huge additional staff at DOE, about a hundred new personnel, who are doing quality control inspections, and constant cycling through the programs, as we ramp them up – and then other agencies, including Health, Fire, Design and Construction, and Buildings, have added inspecting staff for the physical plant issues. But it never stops. It's just a constant cycling through, checking on the situation in each school, and I think if there were anything wrong, we would be able to pick it up pretty quickly. But I feel good that everyone wants to play by the rules, because they see this as a very important opportunity. Yes.
Mayor: I think the jury is entirely back on that core question. So I want to differentiate the kind of metrics that we will employ, to track how this particular program is working compared to the overall question. We believe that there is a societal consensus, effectively, based on all the studies that have been done, that this is very, very productive. I need to wheel out that wonderful Ben Bernanke quote I used 18 months ago when I announced the concept, where, you know, Ben Bernanke said this is the highest impact public investment we can make in terms of return on investment. A lot of studies show stuff like the 7 to 1 ratio of, you know, savings that are achieved by government because of the positives of this, for example. So, I don't think we have any doubt about that. What we want to see is exactly what Delnaye spoke about – the difference between the kids who have the opportunity, and how they've progressed, versus previous generations, it didn't. And the teachers here, Delnaye's own experience as a teacher, I bet the teachers here – you should spend time talking to them about their experience with kids who have had full-day pre-k versus kids who have had half-day, versus kids who have had none. P.S. 239, too, the other day, all of the teachers were exceedingly adamant, and gave lots of examples of the difference they could see with their own eyes, as professionals, how much more able to be on grade level kids were that had the full-day pre-k – how much better socialized, how much better able to follow the instructions of the teacher – it just, for them, was abundantly clear, qualitatively huge difference, much stronger English language learning for immigrant kids, if they had the full-day pre-k. So, what we will track is, how are our kids doing, coming out of pre-k? And we're going to compare to the previous few years where a lot of kids did not have it, to see if it shows the evidence of more on-grade-level achievement. We think we're going to see that.
Question: That information will be made public?
Mayor: Yes, absolutely. One more on-topic. On topic, on topic. Yes.
Question: Mayor, did you know the contents of that envelope before he opened it, or was that – was that a complete surprise?
Mayor: I was hopeful. [Laughs] Yes, I had a very good idea. I had not read the actual letter, but I had a very good idea of the contents, and I must say, I'm having a wonderful vicarious thrill here, because I once – I once got one of those letters. Twice we got those letters. And it's an amazing moment for parents. I want to thank you for sharing it with the people of New York City. Because it is an amazing moment when you know your child's going to get that opportunity. Ok, let's do some off-topic.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I'm wondering if you're on board with some of the City Council members' stance against Walmart's corporate giving to local non-profits, based you know, largely, about, I guess, ideological objections to the company.
Mayor: I don't think it is a state secret that I am very uncomfortable with Walmart – let's just talk about Walmart, speaking with – separate from the foundation. I think Walmart has made a series of choices that have very bad for this country. And I have been adamant that I don't think Walmart, the company, the stores, belong in New York City, and I continue to feel that. The charity – obviously, I respect any charitable organization has to make their own judgements, case by case, about whether they would accept funding from the Walmart Foundation. So Walmart itself – it's really clear to me, as a policymaker – they don't belong here. Walmart Foundation – again, that's a charitable issue. That's not an ideological question. Each – each foundation, each charity has to make their own decision if they want to accept that money. Wait, hold on brother, almost there.
Question: [inaudible] on the stabbing [inaudible]?
Mayor: Police, of course, have questioned the suspect. We do not yet have sufficient information to confirm that he is the likely suspect in the case of 18 year-old young woman who was killed. We all think there's a strong likelihood, but there's not enough evidence yet to confirm that and move forward with that potential prosecution. We're certainly looking at other instances. I think there's some real evidence regarding this incident in Chelsea the other day that he may have had an involvement. So, I think the important thing here is, that this is a heinous and horrible and tragic crime. I spoke obviously about what I feel as a parent, and the conversations I had with PJ's parents were very, very incredibly moving and incredibly sad. And both of them say, just make sure we get this guy. And it's very gratifying that the NYPD put in such a huge effort, and so quickly found him. And he's off the streets, and he's not coming back. But I'm not going to be surprised if in fact there is evidence linking him to one or more crimes, additional.
Question: He kind of stole my question.
Mayor: He stole your question. Uncool, man.
Question: [inaudible] releasing the ID and the photo last night. They were making the arrest.
Mayor: It was a little later, yeah.
Question: It didn't happen real quickly.
Mayor: Yes it did.
Question: [inaudible] can you comment on that?
Mayor: Well, we've been getting a feed of information throughout the day, and I won't go into detail, I'll just say that – you know, I was getting regular updates from Commissioner Bratton, and we were getting increasingly hopeful, but we thought it was very important to get the word out to the public so that we could maximize the chances of a quick arrest. And also to let people know he was armed and dangerous, which he proved to be. So, I think it is incredible that, you know, when you're in the middle of these situations – I can say from personal experience – you always want to be hopeful, but you know that until it's done, it's not done. And if there’d been a few more hours, I wouldn’t have been as shocked. But it was fantastic that, at about 15 minutes after we finished the press conference, that we got the confirmation and there were a lot of – a lot of cheers for that moment, knowing that, that really bad guy had been gotten. Yes.
Question: Mayor, are you making any effort [inaudible] to make sure that Columbia University gets Obama Presidential Library and Museum to come to New York and not go to the University of Chicago?
Mayor: I think Columbia University is a perfect place for President Obama’s Museum, and I’m not sure if they’re going to have one facility or multiple facilities, but I hope that we get at least one piece if they do break it up into pieces. I certainly have made an effort, I've certainly let the Obama team know that we are excited about the idea, we would do anything we can to be helpful to it. You know, the President went to Columbia, has a real affection for the city, and we obviously can guarantee not only a lot of support for such a museum, but a huge number of people from around the world would be able to visit it and it would be an additional, very positive, attraction for New York City. So we’re certainly going to work hard to get it done. Chicago may have a bit of a hometown advantage, but we don’t give up easily, so we’re hopeful.
Question: Mayor, on the stabbing suspect, you’ve made it a priority to tackle the challenge of the mentally in the criminal justice system. Wouldn’t this suspect had to have undergone a psychiatric evaluation prior to release from incarceration, and if so, do you know the result of that? And also, why did it take three years to get the kind of psychiatric evaluation that deemed him fit to stand trial, how come three years of time went by before that?
Mayor: Let me separate it into pieces. I honestly cannot answer about the facts of the three years, that I just don’t know the specifics. My understanding is that he was released from a state correctional facility some time in the last couple of weeks, on parole. The fact is, we believe there’s a fundamental problem in this city, in this state, in this country – that the prison system has been used as a de facto mental health system for too many individuals. There are obviously a lot of people in the prison system and in our jails who do not have mental health problems, but there’s a very substantial percentage who do, who should have, in many cases, have been given treatment, and there might have been a better alternative for. That’s what we’re seeking to address with the commission we’ve put together, which will come back with its report in the next few months, on ways that we can intervene and get folks who might have been bound for Rikers and whose fundamental problem is a mental health problem – obviously with real limitations on which type of suspects we’re talking about, or which type of individual we’re talking about, cause we're – certain individuals are violent, and it should only be in a jail setting. But we’ve got a lot of low-level offenders who do have serious mental health problems who we think there are better ways to address, and that’s what this commission of really impressive and learned folks is going to look at.
This case – look, I think, it seems to me not knowing all the facts yet, that this is someone who probably had very severe mental health problems, and I don’t know why those were not caught and treated earlier, except – again, our larger prison system in New York State, our prison system all over the country, does not address mental health issues effectively. We don’t put resources in as a country. We should not be surprised that there are so many tragic situations – as like the one recently in Santa Barbara – where horrible things happen with people who are evidently mentally ill and did not get the support they needed. So this is something we have to fix as a society. We here in the city are going to start doing that and trying to address the folks going to our city corrections system. But this is an American problem. This is a fundamental American problem. And, one of the things that Richard is going to start working on soon is the community schools effort, and this is a very important point. Because the community schools idea, which the Children’s Aid Society innovated – Richard used to be the head of it – literally requires mental health services to be available in a school setting. And in the city of Cincinnati which I visited, every school in Cincinnati has mental health services in the school, which means, god forbid you find a child showing symptoms of a mental health challenge, right then and there they start getting care, and their families are brought in to get care, in the school. We – it’s going to take us a while to get to that model fully in the city. I pledge to get a hundred such schools up and running by the end of this term. But this is the direction we have to go in as a country if we actually want to take on the challenge of mental illness. We have to reach our young people very early on, very comprehensively, and certainly in terms of jails and prisons, we need a huge infusion of mental health support if we want to actually address the problem rather than ignore it.
Question: Mayor, can you comment on the report that the city [inaudible] millions of dollars or more in federal money because of paperwork failures by the school system?
Mayor: Is this the Medicaid issue?
Question: The Medicaid issue.
Mayor: Yeah, I can comment. The previous administration and its wisdom, we think, did not handle that situation properly. They, as you know, were sanctioned by the federal government for claiming too large an amount of Medicaid reimbursement. It was not a good situation for New York City to receive that sanction. We think, to this day, that there has been a tendency – the policy of the DOE overstated what was actually attainable in terms of those reimbursements. We are determined, by the beginning of the school year in September, to be able to identify what we think is the actual number we deserve and that is sustainable and that we expect to get reimbursed, and that’s the number we’re going to book going forward as a believable, verifiable amount of Medicaid reimbursement. But we think there was a lot of pie in the sky projection in the past and we’re not interested in repeating that.
Question: Your rental property [inaudible] Department of Buildings [inaudible]?
Mayor: Yeah, we’re trying to sort out a bureaucratic issue, like many New Yorkers do. This is a building that, when my mother and my wife and I purchased it, was constructed as a two-family building. It was used that way previously. It’s been used that way by us. There’s some glitch in the rules where some other forms had to have been filed at some point that weren’t. We’re figuring out what those forms are, what information they need, and we will update them and file them and we think everything will work out.
Mayor: I hope it’s a matter of weeks, but we’re – bureaucracy is an interesting thing. Thanks.