Top schools in trouble, says CEC

By Michèle De Meglio

Brooklyn’s most successful schools face the toughest hardships under the city Department of Education’s latest round of budget cuts. That’s the assertion from Christopher Spinelli, president of District 22’s Community Education Council, who fears schools in Mill Basin, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay will be strapped for cash since Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’s cutting $180 million from schools this year and $324 million next year. Spinelli is particularly concerned about schools not receiving Title One funding, which is allocated to under-performing schools for special programs. “The non-Title One schools are being hit very hard because they are going to have to cut programs,” Spinelli said. “Very likely in the non-Title One schools, which are running on a shoestring budget, it’s going to take a big toll.” Spinelli said principals have told him they’re eliminating after-school programs, which often provide academic support to struggling students, and may lose some teachers. “F-status teachers [are] senior teachers that have retired but they bring them back a couple of days a week to assist in a number of ways. If they’re not gone this year, they’re going to be gone next year,” Spinelli said. “If these cuts are going to lead to increased class size, we’re going to be back to the days of underfunded schools,” he added. The $180 million cut breaks down to a 1.75 percent loss from each city public school’s budget. Bloomberg insists the percentage is minimal and won’t be felt at schools. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has said he’s “not happy” about the cuts but “the economy is faltering and revenues are down.” But even so, Spinelli wondered why schools are losing money since the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit just brought millions to the city. “All this money has come back into the school system,” he said. “Why are we discussing a cut? The fact that it arrives and we start talking about budget cuts seems a little odd because right now we should be flush with cash.”

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