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AFC’s Fiscal Year 2023 City Budget Priorities

Winter 2022 | Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities [PDF] for the Fiscal Year 2023 City budget. 

Ensure Every Student Learns to Read [PDF
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of schools is to teach children how to read. Yet far too many New York City students struggle to become skilled readers: less than half of all students in grades 3–8, and only 36% of Black and Hispanic students and 16% of students with disabilities, are reading proficiently, according to the 2019 state exams. The City should invest $125 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding in FY 2023 to provide one-on-one or small group evidence-based reading intervention to students who need this support to become skilled readers.

Support English Language Learners and Immigrant Families [PDF]
The nearly 139,000 English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York City public schools require targeted language and academic instruction to meet their unique needs. The City should launch programs at existing DOE transfer schools in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx to increase those schools’ capacity to serve recently arrived, immigrant ELLs ages 16-21 ($2M), and establish the position of ELL Instructional Specialist at schools with a high number of underperforming ELLs to ensure they receive appropriate instruction and support ($12M).

In addition, with most of the DOE’s family-facing communication currently happening online and via email, many immigrant parents are left in the dark and without access to information to participate in their children's education. The DOE should establish a permanent, central system of immigrant family communications that takes into account families’ varying levels of literacy and access to digital media ($6M).

Address the Shortage of Preschool Special Education Classes [PDF]
We have been deeply concerned about the number of preschoolers who have had to wait for the DOE to provide them with the preschool special education classes to which they are entitled—even as the City has expanded 3-K and Pre-K for All. The FY 2023 budget should add $30 million for the City to provide preschool special education teachers and staff at community-based organizations (CBOs) with salaries on par with their 12-month DOE counterparts, so that the City can open classes to provide a preschool special education class for every child who needs one.

Guarantee Bus Service for Students in Foster Care & Staff the DOE Foster Care Team [PDF]
More than 7,000 children are in foster care in New York City. When students are removed from their homes and families and placed into foster care, school is often the only source of stability in their lives. No student in care should be forced to change schools due to lack of transportation. The FY 2023 budget should include $5 million to guarantee bus service or a comparable mode of door-to-door transportation to students in foster care who need it to stay in their original schools.

Last fall, the City announced a first-ever team at the Department of Education devoted to meeting the unique needs of students in foster care. But with the City’s hiring freeze, this promise, and critical support for these students, remains on hold. To date, only two of the eleven positions have been posted, and none have been filled—meaning there is still not a single staff member at the DOE focused solely on students in foster care. We urge the City to lift the freeze on all DOE foster care team positions and move forward with hiring leadership and staff to work across agencies, develop policies that better serve students in care, and tackle the barriers that limit students’ educational success. 

Support Students and Families in Shelter [PDF]
The 28,000 students who spend time in shelter each year—94% of whom are Black or Latinx—face significant barriers to educational success. Currently, however, there are not enough staff working on the ground in shelters who have the skills and knowledge necessary to help families navigate the school system, address barriers to attendance, and resolve educational problems. The DOE recently received over $9 million in American Rescue Plan funding specifically to support students who are homeless and is poised to receive another $20+ million in the coming months, but has not yet decided how to spend this funding. To ensure students who are homeless can access a high-quality education, the budget should include $18 million to add least 150 shelter-based DOE Students in Temporary Housing Community Coordinators.

Fund a Comprehensive Integrated System of Behavioral and Mental Health Supports for Students [PDF]
The past two years have presented unprecedented challenges that have uniquely impacted the mental health and wellbeing of our students. However, too often when students are struggling, they are met with exclusionary school discipline and policing practices that only further traumatize them and perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline, disproportionately harming Black and Brown students and students with disabilities. The City should fund a comprehensive integrated system of behavioral and mental health supports for students, including: baselining $5 million for the Mental Health Continuum, a model for integrating a range of direct services to students with significant mental health needs in high-needs schools partnered with hospital-based clinics; doubling the number of school-based mental health clinics; funding the Citywide expansion and implementation of school-wide restorative justice practices ($118M in FY 2023); and expanding inclusive school programs for students with emotional, behavioral, or mental health disabilities.