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Response to Release of NYC Executive Budget

04.26.2018 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement in response to the release of the New York City Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget: 

We are pleased that the City is allocating an additional $125 million to 854 high-needs schools through Fair Student Funding.  This much-needed funding will help schools pay for an extra staff member or a variety of programs to meet needs identified by each individual school.  

At the same time, there are important citywide needs that must be addressed through targeted investments and cannot be left to the discretion of individual schools.  To this end, we are encouraged that the City is increasing funding to provide anti-bias training and to help improve literacy for students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), and students living in shelters.

But more work is needed to advance equity and excellence for students being left behind.  Before the budget process concludes, we hope that Mayor de Blasio and the City Council will increase funding in the following areas:

Support for Students who are Homeless:
With 100,000 students homeless, adding just 10 DOE school-based social workers to support students living in shelter is grossly inadequate.  While the City works to address the overwhelming problem of homelessness, they must invest in senior-level DOE leadership and a significant expansion of DOE social workers at schools and in shelters to mitigate the impact of homelessness on children and ensure they can get a high-quality education.

Evidence-Based Approaches to Improve School Climate:
In order to ensure that every child can attend a safe, high-quality school where students, teachers, and staff are treated with dignity and respect, the City must increase investments in direct mental health services for students and fund whole-school training for school staff in collaborative problem solving.  These evidence-based approaches help schools support students with challenging behaviors and were recommended by the Mayoral Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline to keep students in school learning instead of punishing them through exclusionary discipline practices, which do not address the underlying causes of the behavior.

School Accessibility:
As he affirms his commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Mayor must address the severe shortage of accessible schools so that no child, parent, or teacher is turned away from a school because they cannot get in the doors.  The City Council should stand firm on its recommendation to invest an additional $125 million to make more schools accessible.

Bus Service for Students in Foster Care:
While the City took a significant step forward two years ago by offering yellow bus service to students living in shelters, the City must now extend bus service to students in foster care so they do not have to transfer schools mid-year due to lack of transportation.

We look forward to working with the Mayor and the City Council as the budget process continues to ensure the final budget invests in these critical areas.

View statement as a PDF