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Pre-K and CBO teachers cautiously optimistic that fiscal budget may include pay parity with DOE

The protracted fight by community-based providers of pre-K to win pay parity for their teachers may be coming to a successful conclusion.

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council shook hands on Friday, June 14, on the fiscal year 2020 budget, a significant step forward because the City Council has said it would not accept a budget unless there was funding for salary parity for early childhood educators — a major issue as teachers at CBOs are currently paid significantly less than their peers who work at public schools. However, nothing definitive was settled on, with negotiations to continue over the details.

“We’ve reached an agreement that promises to create a pathway to pay parity for our early childhood education providers to address recruitment and retention issues,” the mayor said.

That same day, City Councilmember Mark Treyger — who chairs the Council’s Committee on Education, and who has said that, as a former DOE teacher, he stands in solidarity with pre-K parity — released a statement that said, in part,  “All parties [are] committed to finalizing a salary agreement by the end of summer 2019.

“I will continue to monitor the progress of the pay parity negotiations to save our universal pre-K programs in the city and close the wage gap among early education staff,” he added.

Previously, Treyger had told a crowd of CBO supporters at a rally, “We will not advance a budget unless there are resources to resolve this parity issue once and for all.”

A resolution is critical, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who was one of the first to address the issue of pay parity for pre-Ks, told this paper.

“The city needs to be more transparent and honest with the community based organizations on how they are going to resolve this pay disparity issue because it’s going to make the difference whether these organizations can continue to provide pre-K or whether they will need to close,” she said.

“I think the city has been dragging them along and forcing them to make really tough decisions on whether to remain open,” she added. “The city needs to be straight with them on how they plan to resolve this issue, if they’re really going to resolve it at all.”

Pre-K providers are cautiously optimistic that discussions will result in equal pay for equal work.

Alice Mulligan, director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Preschool at 414 80th Street in Bay Ridge, said she is “cautiously hopeful that our mayor has finally corrected the inequities that teachers in his pre-K program have faced for far too long.

“We are still awaiting the details to confirm that this matter has been rectified and parity has been achieved. A pathway to parity must have an end in sight and in the foreseeable future, because we can no longer continue to operate in the face of such inequities,” Mulligan said.

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