New Funding for Pre-K, Afterschool, Expanded Arts and ELLs Programs Highlight the Department’s Commitment to Students Across the City
NEW YORK— Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the Department’s priorities highlighting increased funding of about half a billion dollars to provide a top-quality education to all students across the City while supporting our teachers, principals, and families.
Highlights include an historic $300 million to fund over 50,000 full-day pre-kindergarten seats this September, $145 million to help provide safe and enriching afterschool programs for approximately 100,000 students, $23 million to strengthen and improve arts education, and $13 million to support English Language Leaners.
The Department’s proposed operating budget is $20.6 billion. Chancellor Fariña announced these priorities during her testimony before the City Council’s Finance and Education Committees hearing on the Executive Budget.
“This year’s budget gives us the unique opportunity to transform our values into historic gains for our public school students—by ensuring that they have access to early education and high-quality afterschool programs, particularly for the middle school grades,” said School’s Chancellor Carmen Fariña in her testimony. “Early education and middle school are two important stages in a child’s academic growth and development, and strengthening those programs will help to ensure that our students graduate ready to compete in the 21st century economy.”
Creating High-Quality Full-Day Pre-K
The proposed budget is the first in the City’s history to include an investment of $300 million to fund more than 50,000 full-day high-quality pre-K seats for September 2015. Expanding high-quality full-day pre-K for every child in New York City is priority for the Department to ensure our children achieve a world-class education that starts with a crucial extra year of expanding vocabulary and building critical-thinking skills through rich experiential learning. Families understand the importance of pre-K, and they are excited for more full-day seats—we have seen a 36% increase in public school applications alone.
Opening Tens of Thousands of New Middle School Afterschool Seats
Afterschool programs offer students important additional learning experiences in the arts, leadership, academic support, and athletics that are critical in their long-term academic success. That is why the Department has committed $145 million to fund 34,000 new afterschool seats for middle school students. Included in this money is additional funding for critical summer learning programs. Research has shown that during the summer, students from low-income backgrounds are likely to slide two months back in reading, which is why the budget expands summer programs to serve 33,000 students, a 48% increase from last year. In our efforts to expand these programs, the DOE has worked with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), and will continue to do so as these programs are implemented and evaluated.
Promoting Arts Education
The proposed budget calls for a renewed commitment to the arts with $23 million to expand arts education. An art education helps inspire students and builds their confidence, and also deepens critical thinking skills. By integrating arts with other context such as social studies, we can provide hands-on learning experiences that help our students succeed.
Expanding Services and Support for English Language Learners
The Department is working to ensure all students have an equal chance to succeed, no matter what their native language may be. With the proposed budget, the Department will spend an additional $13 million to expand support for our English Language Leaners (ELLs). This funding will support more professional development and literacy development and help to design Common Core-aligned lessons that meet the diverse linguistic needs of ELLs. ELLs account for more than 14% of our total school population. It’s critical that we are building inclusive school environments that enable them to succeed.