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NY1 Exclusive: Numbers to Pay for Providing After-School Programs to All Middle-School Students May Not Add Up

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There's been a lot of attention paid to Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for universal pre-kindergarten for city kids, but there's been less focus on the other part of that plan - providing after-school programs for every middle-school student who wants them - and the numbers to pay for that effort may not add up. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Last week, when Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a press conference to promote his middle-school after-school proposal, the message was, "We need after school to be a part of every middle school."

But when he faced questions on how he actually planned to make that happen?

"I always like to know when I don't have every fact at my disposal," he said.

While pre-k had a dedicated task force before the mayor even took the oath of office, City Hall acknowledges that as of now, nobody has started to work on figuring out the logistics of the after-school plan.

Here's what they have said. The tax hike on high earners would raise $530 million. Most would be targeted for pre-k classes, but more than one-third would go to after school. The mayor's team estimates that a little more than half of all middle schoolers would sign up.

"We need after school programs to be available literally for every student who wants to take advantage of it," de Blasio said.

When NY1 dug into those numbers, they didn't necessarily add up. Based on what the city's Department of Youth and Community Development spends on after-school programs for middle-school students now, de Blasio's plan would cost between $228 million and $252 million, much more than the $190 million he's budgeted.

His proposal would also be far more ambitious than what's in place now. The mayor said that after school would run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, just as elementary after school does now. But that could cost closer to $360 million, judging by the elementary school costs.

A de Blasio spokesperson said that the campaign came up with the cost estimate using data from the The After School Corporation, a nonprofit that runs several programs here, but even using those slightly lower numbers, funding the plan with the tax hike alone could be a challenge.

After NY1's story aired, the mayor's press secretary sent the following statement:

"Our plan uses the same model employed by The After-School Corporation, one of our highest quality programs. We are confident we can serve middle schoolers well within that budget framework--$1,600 per seat--and we are actively coordinating City agencies to execute on that approach for the coming school year."

NY1 first reached out to the de Blasio administration for comment on Monday, January 13.

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