Mayor's WINS Address
Hear the Mayor's Message
The Governor's Budget provides some important areas of assistance to the City, particularly in tax reductions that will spur broad-based job growth and Medicaid cost containment.
But in the area of education, the Governor's budget increases the historic disparity between funding for New York City's Public Schools and other school systems across the State.
This is unfortunate, because under the leadership of Chancellor Rudy Crew, New York City has become a state and national leader in instituting educational reforms.
We've made tremendous strides towards bringing accountability to the Board of Education. With the help of the State Legislature, the Chancellor was given the power to remove corrupt and incompetent school boards. We've been able to institute performance based contracts for Superintendents. And we are the first City in New York State to implement school based budgeting, which allows us to gauge how tax-payer dollars are spent.
With increased accountability in place we've been able bring New York City's funding of its public schools to a historic high, totaling more than a fifth (22%) of the City's annual budget. We've invested this money wisely through specific strategic initiatives like Project Read - a literacy program which has helped lead to improved reading scores citywide. Project Arts has brought arts education back to 830 schools. Project Smart Schools will give computer access to all 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the City by August of this year. And a new sports program we'll be unveiling soon and the creation of a Charter School district will add to the opportunities for excellence that we give our children.
The School Construction Authority has improved the time it takes to build a new school from ten years a decade ago, to under 2 years today. We've added 97,000 school seats over the past five years, marking the first time in a decade that the number of new school seats has exceeded the number of new students. This momentum will be continued by the City's proposed allocation of $2.5 billion dollars of the Tobacco Settlement to build and maintain schools.
It is my hope that out of the Governor's 30-day amendment period will come a renewed spirit of partnership towards the education of the next generation of New Yorkers. In particular, we should work towards a plan to expand the school year by one month; a plan to assist the City and all local governments in New York State to build new schools and maintain existing schools at the highest level of quality. And we should develop a specific partnership to further fund those programs that have proven their ability to improve our children's education, like Project Read, Project Arts and Project Smart Schools.
As we enter the 21st Century, our children deserve no less.
This is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.