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Mayor Touts School Programs to Serve the 'Whole Child'

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While pre-kindergarten has been the centerpiece of Mayor Bill de Blasio's education agenda thus far, his administration is moving forward with several other initiatives that he says he hopes will transform city schools. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

In his approach to school reform, Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking outside the kindergarten through 12th grade classroom.

"Whether it's pre-k, whether it's after school, whether it's summer programs, whether it's community schools, we're going to be creating a host of options, a host of opportunities," de Blasio said Tuesday.

He said the city will spend $52 million in state grant money to transform 40 schools into "Community Schools," which will include extra services for students and families, such as health clinics, dental care, and family counseling.

"If a child is coming to school hungry, we are going to have a strategy for getting them fed. If a child is coming to school sick, we are going to have a strategy for keeping them healthy," said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

The mayor has committed to opening 100 new community schools by the end of his first term. Officials say the city already has about 40. This new grant will give each school about $300,000 a year.

"I believe this in my heart: this is such a smart investment," de Blasio said.

The Mayor also says his plan to expand after school programs is moving forward, with 271 city contracts awarded. This means 85% of middle schools will have after school programs by September. They'll go from 3 to 6 p.m., five days a week, 36 weeks a year, costing $3,000 per student.

"This is not babysitting. This is not plugging the holes," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

When asked how his administration will judge whether all of these programs are successful, the mayor says the city will measure outcomes, and he mentioned attendance as one possible factor.

"There will be ongoing study, there will be ongoing quality control—but it will not be about a single test score. That will never be the way we make our final decisions," de Blasio said.

It's all part of what he calls an agenda to support the whole child, all the time.

That includes the summer, too. This year, there will be 55,000 seats in free, optional summer school.

These programs, of course, aren't just about academics; they also incorporate lots of enrichment activities.

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