Late Thursday afternoon as the school day had ended Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina visited MS 306 located on Tremont Avenue in School District 10. They came to see the successful after school programs at MS 306, to talk about the mayors Pre-K proposal, and more after school programs in NYC public schools. They first met with MS 306 Principal Serapra Cruz, and then visited one room in which a vibrant after school program was going on.
When de Blasio and Farina came into the room where a press conference was going on Mayor de Blasio opened with being able to have the programs that are in this school help children progress into adulthood, bond them together, and keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. De Blasio then said that in MS 306 all the students receive free lunch due to the high poverty rate of the area. He went on to say that he was a school board member of District 15 where he met Ms. Farina, and helped to bring her to become the Superintendent of that school district. He added that Chancellor Farina will have as a goal to improve the middle schools in NYC.
Next in the speech by the mayor was on after school programs. The mayor said that in the past 6 years 30,000 after school seats have been lost under Mayor Bloomberg. He wants to have principals be able to choose which after school programs that will fit into their schools best. Chancellor Farina then said that she wants to replicate those good schools and programs citywide. The mayor added that public libraries and community based organizations will be asked to help.
Mayor de Blasio then took questions. One question was that in MS 306 only 25% of the students participate in after school programs. The mayor said that he wants all students to have after school programs as well as Pre-K, and that is why he is pushing for his 5 year tax on those who earn more than $500,000.00.
He cautioned however that NYC will have to wait until the state budget is done in April to find out what the state is giving NYC in aid, but he wants these programs not to be tied into any politics.
To the questions of some of the reporters on hand the answer by Mayor de Blasio was " you have to give me some time I was just elected". On a personal note I was a parent leader and member of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council when former schools chancellor Joel Klein was appointed, and I heard the very same answers that Mayor de Blasio gave. "I'm new here, Give me some time, and finally it was give me the question ahead of time so I can have the answer for you".
I then asked a question of Chancellor Farina what she was going to do about parent involvement that was at its high before Joel Klein was schools chancellor, and is now at its lowest point. Chancellor Farina had some green index cards saying that she meet with the current Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council the day before, and she took note on the green cards that she said was for parents. Chancellor Farina then said that she was meeting with the Community (District) Education Councils next week, and would have a set of orange index cards for their comments. She went on to say that she will have a different color of index card for each different situation. Below are some photos of the Mayor and Chancellor's visit to MS 306.
Mayor de Blasio at the podium as he outlines his education goals.