De Blasio’s after school expansion caught in pre-K fight crossfire
The city is ready to commit $190 million a year to pay for after-school programming for its public middle schools, doubling the number of eligible students in the fall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the administration would boost the education as well as the youth and community development departments to cover an additional 273 schools that don’t offer after-school services.
The plan’s success, however, is tied up with the ongoing fight for universal prekindergarten.
In total, the city would increase the number of schools and community centers to 512 from 239. That means an additional 62,791 middle school-aged students would have access after-school programming by September, if the city can secure the money.
“This is not a small undertaking. This is not a pilot program,” de Blasio said. “This is a system-wide change.”
Like with most recent announcements, de Blasio called the after school expansion “a game changer.” He explained the program would essentially extend the learning day by three hours and called it a “holistic investment in our children.”
The program has been long tied to the de Blasio administration’s efforts to secure funding for universal prekindergarten.
The expansion for after school relies on the same tax hike on New Yorkers who earn $500,000 or more, a fight the administration has already been embroiled in for months.
The calculation for that fight hasn’t changed much, de Blasio — who is scheduled to visit Albany tomorrow to lobby legislators to allow the city to increase taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers — said state lawmakers have been receptive.
“I think we keep adding information to the equation, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s having a big impact on the discussion,” de Blasio said of talks with lawmakers. “They want a, obviously, better school system.”
Ahead of his latest visit, de Blasio told reporters he hopes to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has proposed statewide universal pre-kindergarten without a tax hike that polls show New Yorkers statewide would favor over the city’s proposal.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria