Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a preliminary agreement on a new contract with the United Federation of Teachers. The agreement covers nine years, retroactive from November 1, 2009, through October 31, 2018, with total pay increases of approximately 18%. Other provisions include an agreement to implement yet to be finalized changes in employee health care intended to save at least $3.4 billion, a loosening of regulations intended to allow greater control by individual principals and teachers, an increase in parent/teacher interactions, changes in teacher professional development and evaluations and an enhanced ability of the City to terminate teachers who behave inappropriately and teachers who are in the Absent Teacher Reserve.
Here is the mayor’s full press Q&A, addressing on-topic questions only.
This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio held a bifurcated press conference.
In the first portion the mayor lauded, and gave commendations to, two police officers for their actions in saving the life of a 15 month old child. When police officers Michael Konatsotis and David Roussine responded to a call while on patrol Saturday on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, they encountered parents with an unresponsive toddler. Konatsotis, a former EMT, resuscitated the child as Roussine rushed them and the child’s parents to a nearby hospital.
In the second portion of the press conference de Blasio discussed the middle school after school program portion of his pre-K/middle school after school program initiative. The pre-K portion has received the overwhelming share of public and media attention.
Questions during the Q&A portion of the press conference included his plans during his scheduled visit to Albany on March 4th, why he expects to convince legislators who he has not convinced, whether he’s concerned that the middle school program will be pushed aside if there is a pre-K funding mechanism other than his proposed tax, where the money to fund the middle school program will come from, how he counters the argument that his tax proposal is unfair to cities that do not have a high earner tax base, how he will measure the success of the program absent additional standardized testing, whether he expects to meet with Governor Cuomo or Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos during his March 4th trip, what he would say to a parent whose child planned on attending one of the charter schools that his administration refused to allow, whether he doubts Governor Cuomo’s commitment or ability to deliver on the funding the governor has promised, what are the major hurdles in trying to convince the state senate to approve his tax proposal, whether there’s an absolute deadline for getting his tax proposal approved, whether he can promise parents pre-K spots should Governor Cuomo’s proposal gointo effect, and why he has not met with Congressman Michael Grimm since taking office.
This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded his “Ready to Launch” effort on universal full day pre-K, issuing an update on the substantial logistics required for a September 2014 implementation. Speaking at P.S. 130 in Little Italy, de Blasio was joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, OMB Director Dean Fuleihan, ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion, Executive Director of the DOE Office of Early Childhood Education Sophia Pappas and DOE Chief Strategy Officer Josh Wallack.
de Blasio made a statement and issued a report describing his administration’s efforts at identifying potential sites for new or expanded pre-K classes throughout the city. He appeared to be energetically continuing his efforts at funding his pre-K program by obtaining state approval of an income tax surcharge on high earners, despite Governor Cuomo’s public rejection.
Q&A topics include: why the mayor and Governor Cuomo appear friendly and cooperative on pre-K when together but express different views when apart, will the city fund a single year of full day pre-K if the state does not, how many of the prospective new pre-K seats are in traditional public schools v. charter schools, what is the greatest challenge in converting existing 1/2 day pre-K sites into full day sites, how can the mayor assure that proceeds of his proposed income tax surcharge would remain dedicated solely to the pre-K/middle school program, regulatory issues around pre-K operators, how there can be space available in neighborhoods where schools are overcrowded, how many of the prospective new sites are in schools v. other locations, why the mayor is so opposed to co-locations of charter schools while seeking to co-locate new pre-K programs, the newly-announced ad campaign by charter school supporters, his views on academically screened high schools, his view on the school bus contracts, why he refused off-topic questions Friday evening despite saying on Friday morning that he would take such questions, the status of 28 charter schools expecting to open in fall 2014 in locations approved by the Bloomberg administration, his upcoming appearance on the TV series The Good Wife and his view on city employees marching in the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade in uniform/with banners.
Update – Standing Apart:
A brief clip of Mayor de Blasio and a reporter who chose to “stand apart from everyone.”
Update #2 – The Good Wife:
Mayor de Blasio discussed his upcoming appearance on the CBS TV series The Good Wife, saying that he and his wife “are deeply obsessed with The Good Wife.”
Today Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Dean Fuleihan as budget director. Following statements by de Blasio and Fuleihan, de Blasio answered questions from the press.