GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: District 39 JUMP TO YOUR DISTRICT
 
 

District 39
Brooklyn



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District 39 - Bill deBlasio
2907 Fort Hamilton Pkwy, Brooklyn 11218
City Hall: (212) 788-6969
District: (718) 854-9791
Fax: (212) 788-8967
Email: deblasio@council.nyc.ny.us

Committee Assignments:
General Member, Chair
Civil Service & Labor, member
Education, member
Environmental Protection, member
Finance, member


A Time to Put Children First

A decade ago, crime rates reached record levels and public confidence in the city's ability to keep neighborhoods safe hit rock bottom. Recognizing that, Mayor Dinkins and the City Council worked together to make the streets safer, putting more police on the beat and using high-tech methods to fight crime.

Today, our city faces a similar moment: a crisis in schools and other programs for children, such as child care, afterschool programs and libraries. As chair of the council's General Welfare Committee, I believe that even in the midst of an economic and fiscal crisis, our children must remain the one sacred priority. No one wants to talk about raising taxes but when vital programs to young people are threatened we have to look at temporary, relatively painless measures to bring in revenues to fund the programs we treasure.

In the communities I represent in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park, no single issue is more important than the quality of our schools. The problems are clear:

The ripple effects of a struggling school system affect us all with a workforce unprepared for the 21st century economy, a possible rise in crime and a generation of young people disengaged from civic life.

Positive change will require real focus and political courage on the part of the mayor, the council and the Board of Education, our partners at the state and federal level and, most of all, parents. There is no one solution, but I see some clear steps we can take together:

Insure that our schools have the resources they need: New York City has not received its fair share of state education resources. In 1998-99, New York City spent $9,623 per pupil, while the average downstate suburb spent $12,520. A recent ruling by the State Supreme Court orders the state to pay the city what it deserves, but the state has appealed the ruling.

The state's inaction must not be an excuse for the city to shortchange education. We cannot afford any more cuts to an already overburdened system that has suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts already. We need the city and state governments to agree that neither will lower education spending, adjusted for inflation, from one year to the next.

Give parents a real voice: Many of the discussions about governing our schools ignore the role of parents. Any reorganization of the school system must include a real role for parents and their local representatives.

Reduce class size: Smaller class sizes help children reach their full potential. In the 1999-2000 school year, the average 8th grade English class in the city had 27 students, compared with the state average of 22. When I served on Community School Board 15, we became the first district to cap first-grade class size at 20 students. To do this citywide, we need to adequately fund our school capital budget and aggressively recruit new teachers.

Attract and retain the best teachers: We must provide good working conditions and competitive salaries. New York City's median teacher salary of $51,020 is $13,242 below the average paid by the highest achieving districts ($64,262) in the state. Our teachers deserve a contract that provides for fair salaries, improved pension and health care services, and quality professional development programs.

Ensure that our schools are safe: The city should implement a "Safe Streets to School" program that includes inexpensive measures, such as elevated crosswalks and speed bumps, to reduce accidents around schools. We should request additional police officers near schools before and after school and support after-school programs that provide tutoring and recreation in a safe atmosphere.

Restructure troubled schools: During my time on Community School Board 15, I helped reinvent John Jay High School, one of the city's most troubled high schools. Today, John Jay is becoming a safe haven where students can learn and grow. We need to reclaim our troubled high schools and middle schools by creating smaller schools within the large buildings.

Provide 21st century facilities: We must streamline the process for school construction and hold officials accountable for cost overruns. Given tough fiscal times and a history of overruns, we must focus on building schools in the most overcrowded districts and repairing our most run-down schools. In addition, we must create wired classrooms throughout the city and integrate computer technology into all parts of the curriculum.

Outside of schools, the city can do more to help our children and families succeed. We should:

Help working families find child care: New York City's waiting list for child care assistance has reached 40,000 families. Some parents have waited years on the list. A lack of child care leads to lost work days and harms our economy. The city must use the tens of millions of unspent state and federal aid to expand child care support as soon as effectively possible.

Prevent backsliding on child protection: Since the death of Eliza Izquierdo in 1995, the city has made great strides in protecting our children from child abuse. Despite the budget shortfall, there can be no return to the days of ineffective child protective programs.

Promote libraries and youth programs: Studies show that crime among young people is most likely to happen in the late afternoon and early evening. Libraries and other youth centers provide positive alternatives we must support such programs.

Invest in our workforce and move people from welfare to long-term jobs: The past city administrations have let tens of millions go unspent. In a time of job loss and budget deficits, the city must immediately put those funds to use training New Yorkers for living-wage jobs and helping move welfare recipients to work that pays.

To fund these education and other programs, we must first make sure that we are getting all the money from the state and federal government that we are entitled to receive. This includes, for example, unspent childcare block grant money and federal dollars for workforce development, as well as greater participation in federal and state programs such as the earned income tax credit

In addition, we should seek to reinstate the commuter tax. This tax amounts to mere pennies for commuters who receive untold millions of dollars in services when they come to work here.

While we hope our state and federal partners come through with additional aid, the city needs to explore its own revenue streams as well. We should ask the best-off New Yorkers to pitch in a bit more, even if it means paying additional taxes, to help the city through these tough fiscal times. Since September 11, I have seen a greater willingness on the part of all New Yorkers to contribute to their city's well-being. In light of this, we should explore the possibility of a instituting a slight increase in income tax or reimposing the stock transfer tax.

The slashing of vital services, particularly education, poses a far greater threat to the city than asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay a few more pennies in taxes But we do need to make sure that every dime of new revenue that we raise for education goes directly into the classroom and not for administrative costs.

During the recession, and in the wake of September 11th, New York City has more, not less, of an obligation to fight for its children.

Bill deBlasio represents the 39th Council District.

Posted April 15, 2002.


Community Boards for District 39
Community Board No. 6
250 Baltic St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 643-3027
Ms. Irene LoRe, Chair
Mr. Craig Hammerman, District Manager
http://www.brooklyncb6.org/
Community Board No. 7
4201 4th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11232
(718) 854-0003
Ms. Sarah Gonzalez, Chair
Mr. Jeremy Laufer, District Manager
Community Board No. 10
621 86th St., Brooklyn, NY 11209
(718) 745-6827
Mr. Stephen A. Harrison, Chair
Ms. Denise Virga, District Manager
Community Board No. 11
2214 Bath Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 266-8800
Mr. Wm. Guarinello, Chair
Mr. Howard Feuer, District Manager
http://www.brooklyncb11.org/



Community Plans for District 39 (PDF format)
Comprehensive Community Plan (The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club)

Transportation Plan - The Harbor Loop: Proposed Harbor Loop Ferry System for the Upper New York Bay (Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance)




Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration


Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration


Public Schools

Elementary Schools


Middle Schools


High Schools



To find out what school district you live in, call the Board of Education at 718-935-2000 or link to Public School Reports



Police Precincts

Although many precincts cover areas solely within one City Council district, there are many which overlap with other districts. In most cases the overlap of precincts among districts is no more than a few blocks. Wherever there is overlap, we have made sure to alert you.


City Parks
Click thumbnail for larger image of parks in this district

Learn more about the condition of the city parks in your district at the New Yorkers for Parks (PDF file).



Community Gardens



Click for larger image
Find out more about community gardens from
the Council on the Environment of New York City


Historic Districts and Landmarks
Learn more about the historic districts and landmarks in this area.


The Waterfront

A
map listing suggestions for use and improvement of the waterfront in this district from the Metropolitan Waterfront
Alliance. (pdf format only)