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De Blasio speaks out for after-school programs

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DEEPTI HAJELA | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio visited a Bronx middle school's after-school program on Thursday, promoting the kind of activity he'd like to see in all the city's middle schools.

He once again made the case for a tax increase to fund those programs, along with universal pre-kindergarten, as he was joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina at Middle School 331, the Bronx School of Young Leaders.

He watched a group of young people in a dance program and talked to them about why they liked it. In response to one young girl's enthusiasm, he said, "I think she should run for mayor one day."

De Blasio said after school programs were useful in keeping middle school students engaged and involved, and also helped working parents by providing their children with safe places to be in the afternoons.

"It's a powerful, powerful tool," he said.

The middle school years are important ones for students, he said, since it's such a transitional time for young people physically and emotionally as well as educationally.

The tax increase de Blasio is pushing for has to be approved by the state.

The nursery school plan for all students in the city, plus after-school programs for all middle schools, would cost $530 million a year for five years, de Blasio has said. He's looking for an increase in taxes on people earning $500,000 or more annually.

In his State of the State speech this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was time to provide universal access to all-day kindergarten, but didn't talk about how it would be paid for.

De Blasio said efforts to build support for his proposal would continue to be ongoing, and that he had met with elected officials in Albany this week.



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