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Oversight Hearing, Committees on Education and Finance on Fiscal Year 2025 Executive Budget

May 15, 2024
In the Media, Testimony

We thank the New York City Council’s Committees on Education and Finance for holding this important oversight hearing on the City’s FY2025 Preliminary Budget. My name is Lori Podvesker, and I am the Director of Policy at INCLUDEnyc. For over 40 years, INCLUDEnyc (formerly known as Resources for Children with Special Needs) has helped hundreds of thousands of NYC families navigate the complex special education service and support systems.

We commend Mayor Adams for including nearly $600 million in this Executive Budget to continue programs and initiatives that the City used temporary COVID-19 relief funds to pay for, such as school social workers and psychologists providing mental health support, expansion of free preschool for 3-year-olds, new coordinators working in homeless shelters, support for students at risk of dropping out, and bilingual education programs. 

Yet, we are troubled by the City’s need to fully fund mandatory programs for students with disabilities, such as the $13 million gap for preschool special education. This means there will continue to be a shortage of seats in legally required preschool special education classes, and too many disabled 3-5-year-olds will continue to be denied access to education, services, and support. We are also concerned about other necessary programs and initiatives that should have been included in this budget, including restorative justice, the Mental Health Continuum, and expanding outreach and communication with immigrant families.

In addition, we appreciate the financial commitment and progress the City has made with school accessibility in the last five years. However, considering that two-thirds of New York City schools are still not fully accessible to all students, family members, and educators, the City needs to allocate an additional $450 million in the 2025-2029 Capital Plan. Increasing the total amount of funds dedicated to school accessibility projects over the next five years will be $1.25 billion.

Thank you for taking the time today to consider this important matter. We look forward to partnering with you to improve equity and access for all young people with disabilities in New York City. 


Lori Podvesker
Director of Disability and Education Policy