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Mayor Touts New Arts Funding as Teachers' Contract Gets Closer Look

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As Mayor Bill de Blasio promotes his budget plans for city schools, his tentative contract agreement with the teachers' union is getting a closer look from a top credit rating agency and the city comptroller. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Arts education in the city is set to get a $20 million boost from City Hall. To highlight the new funding, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited an art class in Jackson Heights Monday.

Arts funding is just one of the education initiatives the mayor is trying to promote. Another is $4.4 billion to build new classrooms and reduce overcrowding. An additional $500 million will help remove trailers that have been used as classrooms.

"We expect to greatly reduce the use of trailers in this four-year plan, but we're not saying that we know every single last trailer will be gone," de Blasio said.

Despite all the education budget figures being kicked around on Monday, there are still questions about how much the deal reached between City Hall and the city's teachers union will cost in its entirety.

The tentative agreement was announced one-and-a-half-weeks ago, but it was not until the end of the day Monday that city officials released the total cost of the agreement.

de Blasio: We'll get Dean Fuleihan to get you all the numbers so you see the exact play out over time.
Reporter: You don't have it?
de Blasio: I want to make sure we do it accurately.

Fuleihan is the city's budget director.

New figures show the cost of the deal is $9 billion. With the health care savings the city is banking on getting from the union, the net cost drops to $6 billion.

The agreement is drawing scrutiny. The credit rating agency Moody's labeled the city's budget "credit negative." It noted that the contract agreement raises projected budget gaps in the next three years from less than $2 billion to nearly $7.5 billion.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer took issue with how the city handled the agreement from an accounting standpoint. The city agreed to change the way it accounts for the contract deal in its budget plans.

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