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City funding for hundreds of free after school progams that serve 53,000 students may be slashed by the Bloomberg administration in an upcoming round of budget cuts, the Center for New York City Affairs reports.
Two years ago the Out of School Time programs got $117 million from city, allowing 87,000 kids to attend free after school and vacation programs. City support was reduced to $90 million this year and now, a proposed contract for 2013 anticipates that the city would provide less than $70 million for the OST programs. The cuts mean that fewer than half the current number of students would be served, advocates predict.
A representative for the Department of Youth and Community Development which distributes the funding says the cost of providing services is rising because in the future all programs will be required to provide both after school and summer programs.
Advocates voice concern about the impact of such cuts on families with the loss of affordable child care for working parents.
Read the full story here: Mayor's Axe to After School?
Budgets are tight and schools need all the help they can get to bring in outside resources. Applying for grants is one way to help ensure that extra funds become available to your school community.
Here's one source of small grants that Insideschools just learned about. (We'll share others as we hear of them.) Citizens Committee for New York City awards grants of $500 to $3,000 to volunteer-led groups to work on projects that "bring people together and that have a positive impact on the community." The group also offers project planning assistance and skills-building workshops.
Recent awards have enabled students, parents and teachers to come together to make healthy food available in their communities, transform school lawns into community gardens, and start school recycling programs. Citizens Committee is especially looking to reach out to schools in high-poverty neighborhoods .
"Millionaires have got to pay!" chanted public school children, parents, and teachers, who gathered for a protest outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office on Tuesday and called for an extension of the so-called millionaire's tax.
Police kept the sidewalks clear for afternoon commuters on Third Avenue near Grand Central Terminal while dozens of protestors took turns at the mic—both real mic and the trademark Occupy Wall Street "human mic"—and aired concerns about budget cuts. Complaints included over-crowding, co-locations, cuts to after-school programs and lack of arts programs.
"The government is more interested in campaign contributions for future elections than for the welfare of New York City kids," said Ben Wides, a father and public school teacher.
"If we're going to put the energy into fundraising, we can put it into protesting, too," said Yong Lapage, whose 10-year-old daughter attends Brooklyn New School. His daughter Simone walked on stilts and carried a sign: "stand tall for education." He said his PTA raised tens of thousands of dollars to offset budget cuts last year.
Cuomo did not make an appearance, but but City Council member Brad Lander of Park Slope and his daughter showed up to support the protestors.
"The fact that everybody wants it, that doesn't mean all that much."
So said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 17, explaining why he had decided not to extend the "millionaire's tax."
Some public school parents disagree, and they're taking their demand to Cuomo's doorstep on Election Day. They want the tax, which would generate $2.8 billion in the next fiscal year, to help offset a projected $1.4 billion budget cut aimed at city schools next year.
I am a lousy PA parent. I watch in awe as my peers chair meetings, organize bake sales, get street permits for carnivals, and write grants for enrichment programs, all the while juggling jobs and multiple children and various and sundry overwhelming challenges and responsibilities. I honestly don't know how they do it.
Although I manage to attend some meetings and sell my appropriate quota of raffle tickets, I am fully aware of my shortcomings in this area. And as education budgets continue to get cut, this kind of grassroots organizing is becoming more important than ever. I love the idea of supporting my school—I'm simply not very good at much of the above.
Luckily, I have an excellent role model in my house who has been compensating for his weaknesses and leveraging his strengths for as long as I can remember: Brooks. Taking a page from his play book, I try to contribute in less traditional ways. What I am good at is building websites, so my husband and I started ShopForCharityNow.com back in 2007 which raises money for charities, including schools.
While some families are occupying Wall Street Friday night (Oct. 21) with a sleepover, other public school parents are looking ahead to a Nov. 8 election day occupation of Governor Cuomo's office where they will rally in favor of the millionaire's tax and against school cutbacks. Parents from a half dozen public schools in brownstone Brooklyn and Manhattan are planning the event and are inviting others to sign on.
The initiative is not sponsored by schools or PTAs but is being organized by one or more parent at the participating schools
The Department of Education is holding public hearings for parents, educators and others to comment on this year’s Contracts for Excellence plan. The C4E, as it is known, contains plans to provide help to the neediest students in seven areas: class size reduction, time on task, teacher and principal quality initiatives, middle school and high school restructuring, full-day pre-Kindergarten, and model programs for English Language Learners.
The Contract for Excellence process was established by the legislature after the State Court of Appeals agreed that the city and 20 other urban districts had been shortchanged for years by the state’s education funding formula. Additional funds are due to the city provided the DOE comes up with plans for their use. According to the State Education Department, “…the allocation of funds must continue to be for one of the seven C4E-allowable programs and must continue to predominantly benefit pupils with the greatest needs: i.e., (i) students with limited English proficiency and/or English language learners; (ii) students in poverty; (iii) students with disabilities; and (iv) students with low academic achievement.”
The city will lay off nearly 800 low-paid school support staff on Friday to help close a $35 million budget gap. School aides, parent coordinators and other workers got their pink slips on Sept. 22. Pending negotiations this week between their union, District Council 37, and the Department of Education, Oct. 7 will be their last day.
A DC 37 representative said 701 school aides, health aides, family workers in shelters and 87 high school parent coordinators will lose their jobs. These workers monitor the cafeteria and hallways, help kids on and off the bus, and take sick kids to the nurse, and generally "alleviate the daily needs of teachers so they can focus on teaching," a DC 37 rep told us.
Now that school is out, principals are wrestling with how to slice at least 2.5% from their already thin budgets. That will probably mean larger class sizes; fewer course offerings in high school; and less money for supplies, tutoring and after school help when school opens in the fall.
Some schools will lose more than 2.5% because of new rules on which schools receive federal anti-poverty money, according to WNYC radio.
We spoke to a few principals who are figuring out exactly what they will cut. PS 24 in Sunset Park will lose teachers due to retirement, moves, or career-changes, and they will simply not be replaced, according to Principal Christina Fuentes. But, she said, it is easier to move teachers around in elementary as they all have a common branch license which allows them to teach any grade.
"I lost a bilingual teacher but I have people I’m able to move around. I will be able to staff my school," she said, but acknowledged that class size will probably rise, especially in the upper grades.
With as many as 30 students in grade 2-5 classrooms, class size is already large at PS 146 Brooklyn New School. To offset large classes, and offer support to "kids in the middle" the school relies on part time math and reading specialists, says Principal Anna Allanbrook. Those are the positions that are in jeopardy with the budget cuts. "I've going to have to be very creative in hiring," said Allanbrook. "I have a bunch of part time people and I may have to turn to the PTA [for support]. "
Other schools, such as PS 11 in Clinton Hill, are not losing teachers but will have to cutback on such things as supplies, technology upgrades and planned purchases including SmartBoards for all classrooms.
High schools who lose teachers may have to offer fewer courses. Last year, La Guardia High School, began limiting foreign language classes, only allowing students whose grade was 90 or above in their first year to take a second year of the language. Other schools will have to curtail afterschool programs, Saturday classes or tutoring help, or go without parent coordinators.
Schools may not hire new teachers from outside the system except in designated shortage areas which include special education, bilingual and ESL teachers, general science, Earth science, chemistry and physics. There is also a shortage of Latin and Chinese teachers. New schools which are still expanding may fill up to 40% of their positions with teachers not already in the system.
Capping off days of protests against proposed budget cuts to the city's school system, the Alliance for Quality Education and other advocacy groups today delivered seven 50-foot petitions with more than 16,000 signatures to the mayor's office at City Hall. The petition calls for Mayor Bloomberg to restore his proposed budget cuts which would "cut $350 million from classrooms by eliminating more than 6,000 teaching positions as well as afterschool programs, arts programs, tutoring, sports, counseling, professional development and other essential services," the group said.
Bronx City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera will lead another protest Friday Monday at 1 p.m. at a multi-cultural festival at PS 64 in the South Bronx. (The Friday protest was postponed until Monday because of the weather, organizers announced Friday morning.) Cabrera, a former teacher and high school counselor, says PS 64 and other schools in District 9, the city's second-lowest performing school district, will "lose vital teachers and staff, materials and supplies, all necessary, all necessary to educating children if the mayor's budget proposal passes."
AQE's press release, including its proposal for how the Department of Education can save money:
"What: Parents, students and community members organized by New York City education groups deliver petition, signed by more than 16,000 New Yorkers opposing city cuts to schools, to Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor’s proposal would cut $350 million from classrooms by eliminating more than 6,000 teaching positions as well as afterschool programs, arts programs, tutoring, sports, counseling, professional development and other essential services. Participants will call for the Mayor and City Council Members to make restorations to the education budget.
The parents are concerned that even a budget deal that prevents teacher lay-offs will not be enough to protect a significant drop in the overall number of educators, as many will leave through attrition. They are also concerned that such a deal would still leave a deficit that would lead to significant cuts to the classroom: tutoring programs, arts and music classes, and resources for students and teachers.
The parents will argue Thursday that the City has re-appropriated $205 million in state dollars to the City’s general fund instead of keeping it as part of the education budget, creating a false premise for the mayor’s cuts. They’ll also point to an IBO estimate that the DOE could save $100 million through better accounting—and as much as $150 million if teacher attrition is more in-line with independent estimates, and not the City’s widely disputed number.
Who: Alliance for Quality Education, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, New York Communities for Change, Class Size Matters, United Neighborhood Houses, Mirabal Sisters."