Assemblyman Silver announced that investments in public education have once again been increased as part of this year's state budget, with additional funding to realize his long-held goal of creating universal pre-Kindergarten in New York City.
"I have made investing in public education a top priority for my entire career in public service," Silver said. "With this budget, we are making the most significant investment in our children's education in years. I am committed to ensuring that all of our students receive the highest quality education possible, and by funding full-day universal pre-K, we have achieved a truly historic victory for our city's children."
Public education in New York State will be increased by $1.12 billion, or 5.4 percent, in addition to a new five-year investment of $1.5 billion for the expansion of full-day universal pre-kindergarten. Silver, who worked with Mayor de Blasio to secure the pre-K funding, emphasized the importance of early education in ensuring successful outcomes for students throughout their lives. He and the mayor visited a pre-K classroom at P.S. 1 in Chinatown to encourage parents to sign up their children.
The budget also included important reforms to the state's Common Core curriculum. As part of the agreement, the state will implement a four-and-a-half year delay in including high-stakes test scores on the transcripts of students in grades 3 through 8. The legislation also restricts the amount of classroom time spent on test preparation.
Assemblyman Silver joined Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) Chairman Dennis Mehiel, Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Deborah Glick and Council Member Margaret Chin to announce that the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy will continue as the operator of the Stuyvesant High School Community Center, ensuring local residents access to its low-cost recreation and swimming programs.
The agreement comes after the elected officials and the BPCA formed a committee to find a long-term solution to save the center, which was set to be closed late last year. The committee also announced that the pool repairs have been finished and it has reopened for use.
"I am thrilled that we have found a way to keep this vital community resource open and accessible to our Lower Manhattan neighbors," Silver said. "Downtown residents are in great need of recreational space and the Stuyvesant High School Community Center has served our community well for 20 years. I fought hard to secure this space when the building first opened and I have made it a priority to see that we have continued access to this facility and its excellent, affordable programs. I want to thank Chairman Mehiel, my fellow elected officials, and Community Board 1 for their work in helping to keep the community center open."
New York City Schools Chancellor Fariņa visited Assemblyman Silver's School Overcrowding Task Force, telling members she understands their concerns about Lower Manhattan's crowded classrooms and said she would work with the community to address those issues.
Silver and members of the community asked Fariņa to make sure the Department of Education (DOE) sites the new 456-seat elementary school slated for Lower Manhattan as soon as possible and reiterated their desire to see another roughly 500 seats created for this neighborhood.
"We continue to experience an acute overcrowding problem in our schools," Silver said. "While we are extremely pleased that we will be getting yet another school, Lower Manhattan continues to be the fastest growing residential neighborhood in the city. We, therefore, are still in great need of even more seats to address both our present and future needs."
Silver also asked Fariņa to make further efforts to open pre-Kindergarten classes in the CB 1 area. He congratulated task force member Eric Greenleaf on being appointed to the DOE's School Space Working Group, an appointment he recommended.
Assemblyman Silver, along with Senator Daniel Squadron, Council Member Margaret Chin and Community Board One, urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to approve a financing deal that will allow for the completion of 3 World Trade Center.
"Ceasing construction of 3 WTC now, while Lower Manhattan's construction boom is at its peak, means the WTC will again be turned into a large construction site at some unknown point in the future," the elected officials wrote to the agency. "Local residents have already endured over a decade of major projects in the neighborhood. If the project is postponed to a later date, residents and local businesses will again be forced to deal with prolonged construction."
Responding to concerns over the potential danger to pedestrians caused by heavy traffic on Clinton Street, Assemblyman Silver has asked the city Department of Transportation to add a mid-block crossing between Grand Street and East Broadway.
In a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Silver noted that due to traffic pattern changes, cars have been backed up on Clinton, with drivers behaving more aggressively. Pedestrians, particularly residents of Seward Park Co-op who want to walk between their building entrance and the retail strip of Clinton Street have been crossing mid-block in an effort to avoid gridlock at the regular intersection.
Silver asked for a pedestrian crossing mid-block to make it safer.