- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York legislative leaders said Wednesday they were closing in on a deal to fund pre-kindergarten and discussing a delay to Common Core academic standards as they tried to finalize budget bills this week.

Republican Senate co-leader Dean Skelos told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday evening that they were closing down issues, but the leaders remained vague on details. Legislative budget committees met Wednesday night to announce agreements on smaller ticket items, like $872,000 going to each of the state’s high-tech “centers for excellence,” but committee chairs said more work remained.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said earlier that they expect to be ready to print budget bills by Friday. That would allow the Legislature to vote on a budget by Monday, the day before the state’s new fiscal year begins.

Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Democrat, said they’re moving toward a $300 million funding target for pre-kindergarten in New York City, which would be $40 million less than what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had sought. Skelos said they are also trying to make sure Long Island and upstate school districts are treated fairly under the deal.

Silver said they were discussing a delay or some other changes of the more rigorous Common Core standards, which have been criticized by parents and teachers around the state.

“We’re talking about doing something so that the testing that takes place in April will be less dramatic, less traumatic, to the student,” said Silver, whose chamber already passed a bill to delay portions of the standards.

The leaders also were talking about ways to help charter schools and make sure they have the ability to operate in public school buildings, an issue that flared up after de Blasio revoked three charter schools’ applications to co-locate in public school buildings.


Associated Press Writer Josefa Velasquez contributed to this report.

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