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Bloomberg Announces $300M Boost For City Schools—With a Catch

Funding increase hinges on teacher evaluation agreement, mayor says.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the final executive budget on his watch could increase school spending by about $300 million without a tax hike.

If he gets his way, that is.

The main beneficiary of the budget is the public school system, which would see a funding increase from $13.3 billion from fiscal year 2012 to $13.6 billion for 2013.

But it comes with a catch. Unless the United Federation of Teachers agrees to a teacher evaluation system, "amendments to the education budget will be necessary to compensate for the loss of funding," the mayor's office said in a release.

In a statement, UFT president Michael Mulgrew praised Speaker Christine Quinn and the rest of the City Council's efforts to increase the number of teachers.

However, , it seemed the Bloomberg administration and UFT were still some distance apart despite progress in negotiations to clear the way for a more limited stream of performance data to be released to parents.

"The UFT went to Albany to fight for better teacher evaluations and we will continue to work toward a system that works for the students and teachers of New York," Mulgrew said.

Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, said programs serving the city's poor should be restored to full funding—calling on the Bloomberg administration to use part of a $466 million settlement of the CityTime scandal to help struggling New Yorkers.

"Mayor Bloomberg should commit to using funds recouped from CityTime—as well as the Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund—to restore cuts to Out of School Time, the HIV/AIDS Services Administration, [city] firehouses, libraries and other cultural organizations," James said.

Even with the potential impasse over teacher evaluations and disagreement about how best to use the CityTime settlement money, Bloomberg's budget still was good news for city taxpayers.

"Our budget won't impose any new taxes on New Yorkers, maintains the strength of the NYPD and continues our strong support for public schools," Bloomberg said.

"We’re able to make all of those commitments as a result of years of fiscal care, foresight and a constructive partnership with the City Council."

He credited his administration's policies within a variety of industries with the growth in private sector jobs. The resulting increase in business has increased the tax revenue stream enough without further demands on businesses and individuals.

Paul Leonard contributed reporting.

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