Today religious leaders, working parents, day care center staff, union members and community representatives held an 11:00AM press conference at City Hall to fight back against the city’s proposal to eliminate kindergarten in public schools.
Analysts say that the plan to shift about 3,300 5-year-olds to already overcrowded public schools costing the city millions and not saving money, as claimed by the mayor.
Parents and workers are urging City Council to continue to fund the 3,300 slots and Universal Pre-Kindergarten in order to maintain education standards.
Under the mayor’s plan, parents will no longer have the option to place their 5-year-old children in day care centers for a full day of kindergarten services. Currently, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) provides center-based child care to 22,000 low-income children ages two through five in over 300 child care centers that are fully funded by ACS.
While city officials have said the elimination of kindergarten in day care centers would reduce the budget, City Council hearings pointed out that the proposal would cost an additional $2,800 per child plus busing expenses and in some cases school building modifications.
“If these children are removed from day care centers, the city will spend millions more for bussing and building modifications,” said Mabel Everett, Local 205 President. “The city didn’t factor those costs into the estimates. In the end taxpayers’ won’t save $15 million – the proposal is likely to add even more debt to our deficit.”
“During a time of economic crisis, we should be doing all that we can to keep people working so we can keep our economy working,” said Raglan George, Executive Director of District Council 1707. “We should especially be helping lower-wage workers who are usually more affected by downturns in the economy.”
The proposed cuts go beyond affecting services for 5-year-olds. The ACS has notified day care centers that have Universal Pre-Kindergarten contracts with the Department of Education that it’s cutting its share of the center budgets as of February 1.
This is in sharp contrast to the expansion initiatives set by the New York City Council and New York State Legislature. The drastic reduction of early childhood education funds will not only reduce services to 4-year-olds, but force many centers to close due to reduced funding.
“At a time when more New York families need all the support they can get, the mayor is creating greater stress on parents by cutting pre-kindergarten services instead of expanding them. Not only is the plan to move five-year-olds out of day care centers and into public schools a bad idea, but it also has been a poorly administered effort,” said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.