Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani
September 7, 1997

Public School Parents and Students:
After a Smooth Opening Day, a Great Year of Hard Work Lies Ahead

by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

In the past few weeks, I have attended the opening of P.S. 24, a new elementary school in Brooklyn, and of I.S. 5, the William Crowley School, in Queens. It's a wonderful year for these schools to open their doors for the first time. By housing some of the 22,735 new seats being added to the system this year, they are filling an essential need for the system's 1.1 million students. And by joining in this year's auspicious beginning, they are joining in the momentum of educational progress that can be felt all throughout the city.

Following last year's rise in reading scores in every one of the City's 32 community school districts, and on the strength of a number of exciting new programs -- and with enough seats for every student, thanks to newly created classroom space -- we are confident that this year students will continue to reach higher levels of achievement.

Since he became Chancellor in the fall of 1995, and especially since we finally gained the schools the governance power they deserve last year, Dr. Rudolph Crew has advocated higher standards throughout public education. Chancellor Crew knows that when we increase our expectations of what students and teachers can achieve while providing them with more intensive instruction and support, they rise to the ocassion and deliver results. That's the idea behind the high reading standards he has set for third graders across the city. We want every student in the City to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade. By setting this goal, we not only encourage students to do better, but we also ensure that our teachers will use all their creativity and energy to meet our expectations.

Higher standards can only work if they have the support of innovative educational programs that harness teachers' enthusiasm and focus it effectively. I am proud of the way that Chancellor Crew and our administration have been able to work together in the name of serious, meaningful improvements in the school system. Programs like Project Read, Partners in Reading, Project Smart Schools, and Project Arts are intelligent and inventive uses of our resources that reach children directly in their classrooms.

Teachers and parents have reason to be excited about these initiatives. When students come home from school talking about new classes, books, and computers -- enthusiastically, I hope -- parents should realize that these are all part of a concerted, coordinated effort to raise standards and improve student achievement throughout the city.

This school year may seem like just another beginning, but it's not. It is a very special start, the culmination of months and even years of effort by our administration and Chancellor Crew.

Of the almost $34 billion 1998 New York City budget, 28.3 percent of the total budget -- the highest percentage ever -- is being allocated to the Board of Education. In 1994, just 25.2 percent of the budget was allocated to the Board. This puts the Board of Education's 1998 total fund expenditures at their highest level ever. The Board's expense budget for 1998 is over $9.3 billion, a significant increase over 1994, when it had an expense budget of $8.2 billion. In addition, spending on the Board of Education's capital plan for 1999 -- meaning investment in new school construction, which is crucial to the future of our system -- is the highest it's ever been.

With these funding increases, we're more than keeping up with the surge in enrollment. Between the 1993 and 1998 budgets, at the same time that total enrollment in the schools will have increased by over 98,000 students, spending per student will have risen from $7,900 in 1993 to over $8,500 in 1998. That puts per-student spending at its highest level ever.

City Hall and the Board of Education are deeply committed to ensuring that all these funds are spent as effectively as possible. We believe that with the additional allocations, the innovative new strategies like Project Read, and the power to see that they are are implemented through a strict chain of accountability, the school system's momentum of achievement will continue to build.

If you are the parent of a public school student, I hope you discuss some of these ideas with your child, with the understanding that parents have a central role to play in their children's educations. If parents also focus their energy on fostering a love to read in their children, for instance, I believe we will see even greater results at the end of this school year. Our goal is to mold our children into good men and women who are well equipped for the next century. We are all in this together. That means together we have a great challenge and a very exciting opportunity.

Congratulations to Chancellor Crew, principals, teachers, parents, and students on the start of the school year, and good luck to everyone.

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