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N.Y.C. Mayor Looks to Provide 34,000 New After-School Slots

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The waiting is over for after-school advocates who have been wondering how much money New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is willing to spend on expanding after-school programs.

De Blasio released his executive budget last week, and he has allocated $145 million for after-school programs for middle schoolers in 2014-2015, which will fund 34,000 new seats. (With the expansion, after-school programs will serve nearly 100,000 middle schoolers in fiscal year 2015, de Blasio said at a press conference introducing the budget.)

The budget allocation almost doubles the money the city will spend on after-school programs this year, but falls short of the $190 million the Democratic mayor originally sought for after-school expansion.

In April, state lawmakers rejected de Blasio's proposal to establish a dedicated stream of funding for after-school programs bankrolled by higher income taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers. Albany did grant de Blasio permission to spend as much state aid as he wanted on after-school programs this year.

According to local NPR affiliate WNYC, after-school providers will get $3,000 for each child enrolled in their programs, which is double the current rate. In return, the city is asking after-school providers to offer 15 hours a week of programming, more than what's available at many locations currently. The city has encouraged after-school providers applying for funding to collaborate with other organizations so they can offer a mix of different types of activities, including arts programs, literacy training, and mentoring.

The budget also expands summer programs to provide slots for 33,000 children in fiscal year 2015.

After-school programs are "a crucial part of what we're doing" to improve education in New York City, de Blasio said at the press conference. "I've testified before to you about what it means. I've seen with my own eyes so many times the transcendent impact that after-school can have—extended learning, homework help, tutoring. Also, our law enforcement officials will be the first to say that quality after-school programs are intensely helpful to the police and other law enforcement professionals in helping give kids a positive option."

De Blasio's proposed budget requires a final approval from the City Council by July 1.

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