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Settlement of CityTime Scandal Will Pay for Teachers

Friday, May 04, 2012 - 08:40 AM

It is worth repeating again the good news in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's executive budget on Thursday: 2,570 new teachers next year, The New York Times reports.

That will likely affect class size, make it possible for the city to serve hundreds of additional special education students, and provide stability heading into the new school year.

With no new taxes in the city budget, where will that additional money come from? "A one-time-only payment of $466 million from Science Applications International Corporation, to settle federal and city investigations into alleged fraud in the CityTime automated payroll system," The Times reports -- meaning some good will come out of one of the worst scandals of the Bloomberg administration.

But The Times points out that this may not be the best way to resolve a budget gap caused by increased costs and a drop in tax revenue:

... budget experts expressed concern that the 2013 budget was being closed with one-time windfalls like the CityTime settlement and the planned sale of $1 billion worth of taxi medallions, as well as virtually the last of the $8 billion surplus that the city accumulated during the Wall Street boom.

Which could mean trouble down the road if the economy does not improve -- and just as the city heads into a mayoral election.

But for many parents, the mayor's budget contained more immediate bad news: cuts of millions of dollars for child care and after-school programs.

Veterans of the annual budget dance between the mayor, who proposes the budget, and the City Council, which can amend it before approving it by July 1, anticipate a much-less dire outcome, particularly given the strong advocacy for the financing by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. But it will mean perhaps months of uncertainty and anxiety for parents and program providers. As The Times reports:

Not long after Mr. Bloomberg’s event at one end of City Hall, Ms. Quinn and Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr., chairman of the Finance Committee, held their own news conference at the other. They said they were particularly worried about the cuts proposed to city-subsidized child care programs, and after-school offerings under the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Out-of-Time program. Advocates say that 47,000 children could lose access to those services.

“Unacceptable,” Ms. Quinn said.

In what might have been a sign of the battle ahead, a new coalition called the Campaign for Children participated in a rally on the City Hall steps shortly before Ms. Quinn and Mr. Recchia held their briefing.

Still, citing the mayor’s acknowledgment that he was also concerned about the effect of the cuts, Ms. Quinn said that such “shared concern” made her feel “optimistic.”

In other words: stay tuned.

Gotham Schools' Rise & Shine post this Friday morning has a more complete roundup of what's in the news about schools and education today.

Meanwhile, the school year seemingly accelerates once state testing is over and students and staff have made it to May. Here are some of the events going on around the city on this Friday and over the weekend:

Students who participated in Round 2 of the school election process will be finding out their high school or middle school placement. Good luck to everyone.

Friday is also Civics Day, and more than 200 city students from 14 schools will gather to present their ideas on improving New York, taking on issues like curbing public drinking and child abuse and improving sex ed and physical education in schools. The event will be held at the auditorium of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 1 Bowling Green, Manhattan, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At 9:30 a.m., Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will deliver the keynote address at the Children First Network's Student Empowerment Conference at the College of Staten Island, Center for the Arts, 2800 Victory Boulevard.

At 10:45 a.m., Robert Solow, an alum of Bronx High School of Science and a 1987 Nobel Laureate in economics, will speak to A.P. Economic students at his alma mater on "growth theory and modeling." He will then have an informal lunch with a smaller group of students.

On Friday evening, the education association of the Transfiguration School will hold its 16th Annual Fundraising Dinner at Jing Fong restaurant, 20 Elizabeth Street, Chinatown. The event, which begins at 6 p.m., will honor Edward Cardinal Egan with its Varela Award.

Also on Friday evening, Public School 11 Purvis J. Behan in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, will hold its annual silent auction to raise money for the school. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Bija, 900 Fulton Street.

And who says co-located schools can't get along? On Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m., more than 200 volunteers from La Cima Elementary Charter School, M.S. 267 Math, Science & Technology and Bedford-Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School, as well as organizers from KaBOOM! and local residents, will build a playground on their shared campus at 800 Gates Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Here's a nice twist: "The new playground’s design is based on drawings created by children who participated in a Design Day event in February."

Also on Saturday, sixth, seventh and eighth graders from the five boroughs will compete in the 2012 AMS Pi5NY Math Tournament at 216 Ft. Washington Avenue at 168th Street in Manhattan.

And more competition for the smarties: More than 300 K-12 students will participate in the 10th annual NYC Mayor’s Cup Chess Championships. The competition will include the middle school team from Intermediate School 318 Eugenio Maria de Hostos that recently won the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship. The event is at Public School 11 William T. Harris, 321 W. 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan, with the final round beginning at 2:15 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

Because this is fund-raising season (expect more on this subject from SchoolBook in the coming weeks), here's another one: P.S. 84 Jose De Diego in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is trying to raise money to bring in Marquis Studios, a group that provides in-school arts education. The event, which begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, requires a $25 ticket.

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