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NY1 Exclusive: Mayor's After-School Proposal Does Not Fund All Students Equally

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When Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Albany, the talk was all about pre-K, but he's also looking for taxing authority to provide after-school programs for every middle-school student who wants them, but NY1 education reporter Lindsey Christ has been looking at the funding behind his plan and found that it leaves some students with less. She filed the following report.

Dance team, math team, visual arts. The principal at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School says he's lucked out for the past two years with city funds for high-quality after-school programming.

"When it's the end of the day, I'm just so excited that oh my God, after school," said one student.

The school is one of 239 middle schools that offer comprehensive after-school activities. There are 273 others that don't.

Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Albany Tuesday to push his plan, which calls for after-school programs at every middle school for every student who wants it.

"This is system-wide change," de Blasio said.

But quality after-school programming, five days a week for three hours a day, is expensive.

When NY1 started looking at the numbers in January, the mayor's office told NY1 it would cost just $1,600 per student, but this week, City Hall revised those numbers, saying it will actually cost $3,000.

De Blasio says that the city will need to fund 50,000 new spots in after-school programs, which would cost $150 million, and spend another $12 million to expand existing city-funded programs. He says his proposed tax hike on wealthy New Yorkers would provide about $190 million a year to pay for the programs and administrative costs.

"We know that our proposal will work," de Blasio said.

However, even if the tax is approved, there still won't be enough to go around. That's because thousands of students are in programs paid for with federal funds, only $1,500 per student, and the mayor's plan does not call for boosting that to $3,000.

What if the tax hike doesn't go through? It's something that the de Blasio administration refuses to talk about or even let agency officials talk about.

"We're not going to bargain against ourselves," de Blasio said.

The mayor's own budget shows how much they're counting on that money. Without the tax, the city plans to spend $124.7 million on after-school and summer programs in the next year. That's $26 million less than this year.

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