NYC mayor greets pupils on first day of school

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spotlighted the successes of his education policies as students head back to school Wednesday morning.

De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina welcomed students at a school on Staten Island on Wednesday. Farina also visited a school in each of the city's other four boroughs.

"It's a day that's been talked about for generations," de Blasio said. "For the first time, any child anywhere in the city, any 4-year old, can have full day pre-K for free."

The mayor spoke after touring a pre-kindergarten program on Staten Island. About 1,500 more students in the borough signed up for pre-K over last year. The city has the capacity for 73,000 pre-K students. So far, 65,504 students are enrolled and "it's literally growing by the hour."

The mayor said the city's pre-K program saves parents $10,000 to $15,000 on day care, as well as giving students a strong educational start.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew agreed, calling it, "Probably the single biggest accomplishment in education in the last two years."

Additionally, middle school after-school programs are now available to any student who wants one, he said.

This year, De Blasio and his administration also face challenges that include helping the city's 94 "renewal" schools improve enough that they won't have to close.

Farina said Tuesday that closing some struggling schools remains an option. She said in an interview with WNYC radio that she sees closing schools as a last resort.

The school year also marks the second year of de Blasio's signature full-day pre-kindergarten program. About 70,000 children are expected to participate.

On the eve of the first day of school in New York City, Bill de Blasio sent the city's youngest students a special message.

The video shows de Blasio preparing a Pre-K classroom for the first day of school, sharpening pencils and vacuuming the rugs.

It ends with de Blasio handing keys over to the teacher, with a wish for a great school year.

Related Topics:
educationbill de blasioMayor Bill de Blasiopre-schoolback to schoolnew york city schoolsNew York City
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