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OFFICE OF ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM COLTON
47TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT – KINGS COUNTY
155 KINGS HIGHWAY – BROOKLYN, NY 11223
TEL: 1(718) 236-1598                   FAX: 1(718) 236-6507

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
 
     March 28, 2014
Contact: Priscilla Consolo;  347-403-3930, priscillaconsolo@gmail.com
STATEMENT FROM ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM COLTON
(D, WFP- 47TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT, BROOKLYN)
ON STATE BUDGET PRE-K PROPOSAL

The New York State Legislature is currently engaged in debates for the State’s Budget, with indications that a final deal will be agreed upon soon. There has been particular focus on the proposal to supply monies for education, especially universal pre-kindergarten programs. There are indications that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators are closing in on a deal to set aside about $300 million dollars for Pre-K programs in New York City. The rest of the state will receive $40 million in this funding. These monies would not be raised from increasing taxes on the wealthiest New York City residents (those earning $500,000 per year or more), as Mayor de Blasio originally proposed.

There are also indications that monies will be set aside for after-school programs across the state, with New York City receiving a proportion of that amount. This will include a proposal for a $2 billion dollar bond, which will be put on the ballot for voters to decide in November, for capital education projects. This bond would fund capital construction work, and could be used by public schools, non-public schools, and charter schools for creating pre-k programs, building new gymnasiums or extensions, creating after school programs, or making technological improvements within the school (such as building a computer or science lab).

Governor Cuomo has said that the monies will be set aside, but the City will have to set up and start the programs for the next school year (next September) on their own. Then the City government, along with other local and municipal governments throughout the state, will then seek reimbursement from the state for spending the money to create and run the programs. Cuomo said the State government would reimburse the City up to the full amount of $300 million for the Pre-K initiative.

According to this budget proposal, the $300 million would also be available for non-public schools and community organizations that run pre-kindergarten programs for children. The universal Pre-K program would be a full-day program and have a class size limit of eighteen students. The program would also require the hiring of additional teachers to teach the pre-k classes created by this funding. The state has announced that it would pay $10,000 per student to the universal pre-k program, if the student is taught by a NYS certified teacher. The state will pay $7,000 per student for non-certified teachers teaching these new pre-k classes, as long as these educators were on a path to be certified within three years.

In addition to the $300 million for universal pre-K, the state budget for education will be increased by 1.1 billion dollars over last year’s education budget. The increase will include increase funding for mandatory state services for non-public schools. Further, the 1.1 billion dollars will be divided between two formulas: the gap-elimination formula, and the school-foundation aid formula.

In addition, reforms to the Common Core curriculum were also won. Standardized exams testing the new common core will still be given, but these exams won’t be counted for grade promotion and won’t be used against the students in any way. However, these standardized tests will still be used for teacher evaluations, for teachers.

Assemblyman Colton contended, “This year’s Budget is an opportunity to bring about historic foundational change in our school system. With the $300 million in funding for the NYC universal pre-kindergarten program, there is an opportunity to bring tremendous and unprecedented change to the city’s public school system. The creation of universal pre-k will bring fundamental change to the school system structure, unlike anything ever seen or done before.”

Assemblyman Colton continued, “Universal pre-kindergarten is a historic initiative which will help build a sound foundational education for our city’s children. The creation of universal pre-K in New York City will have a profound impact on improving the quality of education for millions of students. It is important that New York City implements pre-kindergarten programs not on a partial basis, but as a universal foundational reform which will positively affect the greatest number of students in our city’s public school system. Educational experts and scientific studies have agreed that pre-k programs greatly improve the quality of learning for young children, and will provide a foundation that will continue to benefit students throughout their school careers. Pre-kindergarten classes increase children’s ability to function at school, gives them the foundation that they need in order to be successful, and that will help them in the later years of their education.”

Assemblyman Colton went on to applaud Mayor DiBlasio for bringing this issue to the forefront. Colton also called on parents to be watchful and to speak up to insure the State government keeps its promise and pays for this universal pre-K initiative, and not only this year but also for future years. Colton said, “We must insist that both the State and the City keep their promises to ensure that this plan works. Parents need to be very watchful and insist on it happening. I am urging and calling on parents to be watchdogs to make sure that New York City establishes a high quality universal and full day pre-K program and implements this program correctly: that the City government and DOE opens up the seats for students, recruits certified teachers, allocates the space, and recruits children to fill the seats in these programs. If all these things are done, then we will have universal pre-k in New York City, which will bring about the true historic foundational changes all have been aspiring.

 

Assemblyman Colton asserted, “Educating our young people should be a top priority for all levels of our government, because the people who have elected us have entrusted us to make these important decisions which will affect their children. Our young people are our future, and we need to ensure that we are giving them the best education they can receive, and that our children surely deserve.”

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