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Final budget proposal includes money for more teachers

Mayor Bloomberg’s final budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, released on May 3, restores 2,570 of some 6,000 teaching positions lost over the past five years — marking the first time in four years that the city will be replacing teachers who leave.

“New York City has lost thousands of teachers over the last few years, and it’s good news to hear that we will be adding educators to the system. I can’t thank the City Council enough for making education a priority,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

The budget includes a small overall increase for education while keeping school funding at current levels. But the mayor continued to call for millions of dollars of cuts to city-subsidized child care and after-school programs. In all, 27,000 after-school slots and 16,000 child care slots for low-income families are in jeopardy.

The final budget proposal also did not contain any funds for Teacher’s Choice, a school-supplies program that the union will fight to revive in the weeks leading up to the final budget, which is due by July 1.

The executive budget, the first in four years to not cut school budgets, is a modification of the mayor’s January budget plan that incorporates changes by the City Council. Next year’s spending increases follow rising city employment, a stronger real-estate market and a pickup in construction. Revenues from business and personal income taxes, however, are coming in below expectations, the mayor said.

The 2013 Department of Education budget is expected to grow by almost $400 million to $19.7 billion, including city, state and federal funding, and the city projects an enrollment increase of 11,582 students, mainly in special education and charter schools.

The new budget projects that teacher and school leadership headcounts will be virtually unchanged from this year for general education and increase by 1,500 in special education. In his preliminary budget, the mayor had sought to reduce the teaching force by 2,570 through attrition.

In presenting the budget, the mayor warned that if the UFT doesn’t participate in “serious discussions” on a teacher evaluation plan, the city could lose $300 million in expected state funding, putting the education budget in jeopardy.

But Mulgrew made it clear that the onus is not on the union. “The mayor is the one who walked away from $70 million in federal money by refusing to negotiate a 33-school pilot program of the new evaluation system,” he said. “The UFT went to Albany to fight for better teacher evaluations, and we will continue to work toward a system that works for the students and teachers of New York.”

In the budget, the mayor included $466 million from the settlement of the CityTime payroll project, where contractors bilked the city for hundreds of millions of dollars under the mayor’s watch.

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