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AFC’s Fiscal Year 2021 City Budget Priorities

Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities for the fiscal year 2021 City budget. 

Preschool special education classes [PDF]
While the City has added hundreds of seats in preschool special classes over the past year, too many preschoolers are waiting for the DOE to provide them with the preschool special class seats to which they are legally entitled. The City must allocate sufficient funding to provide a preschool special class seat—in district schools, Pre-K Centers, or community-based organizations (CBOs)—for every child who needs one. In addition, the City must extent salary parity to teachers of DOE-contracted preschool special education classes. Preschool special education programs already have difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers, who can earn far higher compensation in district schools, and without ensuring salary parity for this group of teachers, the City runs the risk that this talent will leave CBO preschool special classes in pursuit of higher salaries at public schools and CBO EarlyLearn/3-K/Pre-K classes—thereby exacerbating the troubling shortage of preschool special class seats. 

Support for students in foster care [PDF]
Approximately 6,000 NYC students are in foster care each year. For students who have been separated from their families and placed in foster homes, school has the potential to be an important source of stability. However, the DOE has long overlooked the needs of students in foster care, even though they are among the most likely to repeat a grade, be suspended, need special education services, and leave high school without a diploma. We recommend that the FY 2021 budget include and baseline funding to establish a small Department of Education office focused on supporting students in foster care. The budget should also include sufficient funds for the City to abide by federal and state law and guarantee bus service or a comparable mode of transportation so students in foster care do not have to switch schools.

Transfer school programs for recently arrived immigrant ELLs, ages 16-21 [PDF]
We urge the City to take steps to address the consistently low graduation rates and high dropout rates of the City’s English Language Learners (ELLs). Recently arrived immigrant students ages 16-21 and Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) are particularly vulnerable, as few DOE schools can serve and support them through graduation. According to a recent data analysis conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, New York City is home to over 4,200 high school-age immigrant youth who do not have a high school diploma but are not enrolled in school. The DOE’s “ELL Transfer Schools” are among the rare schools in the City that can provide a supportive learning environment for under-credited and over-age recently arrived immigrant students. Unfortunately, there are only five such schools, four of which are located in Manhattan, making it difficult for students in other boroughs to attend. To address the geographic limitations of the City’s ELL transfer schools and increase existing non-ELL transfer schools’ capacity to serve recently arrived immigrant youth, the City should allocate funding to pilot programs to support ELLs, ages 16–21, at existing transfer schools in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. 

Strategic school climate investments [PDF
Black students—who comprise around a quarter of the New York City public school population—received more than half (52%) of all superintendent’s suspensions in the 2018-19 school year. In addition, each year, thousands of students with significant emotional, behavioral, and mental health disabilities continue to be removed from class by uniformed police officers and School Safety Agents and taken away from school by Emergency Medical Services when medically unnecessary. Many of these students are not getting the targeted, trauma-informed, and restorative supports, interventions, and services they need in school and, instead, are further traumatized by a law enforcement response to their mental health needs. In the FY 2021 budget, it is crucial that the City make strategic investments in: (a) a Mental Health Continuum to provide a range of direct services to students with significant mental health needs in high-needs schools, partnered with a hospital-based clinic; and (b) funding for the DOE to sustainably and effectively expand Restorative Justice programs citywide. 

Support for students living in shelters [PDF
In 2018-19, more than 114,000 City students experienced homelessness. More than 34,000 of these students spent time in shelters. While the City has placed 100 “Bridging the Gap” social workers and more than 100 Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators in schools with high numbers of students who are homeless, about 25,000 children in shelter attend schools without a Bridging the Gap social worker or Community Coordinator. Furthermore, as the number of family shelters and commercial hotels has grown, the number of shelter-based DOE staff has not kept pace, meaning that some students and families have no DOE support at their shelter at all. In the FY 2021 budget, the City should include and baseline funding for at least 50 DOE Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators to work in shelters to focus on meeting the educational needs of students who are homeless, as well as three managers to supervise and support the work of the Community Coordinators.