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Bayside High School PTA and Councilman Paul Vallone demand school funding equity

A northeast Queens lawmaker and local parents want the city to increase funding for a top-performing Bayside high school following reports that it received less funding than what was expected.

According to Councilman Paul Vallone and the Bayside High School Parent Teacher Association, the school only received 83 to 90 percent of the funding amount determined by the Department of Education Fair Student Funding (FSF) formula.

City records showed that Bayside High School is slated to receive approximately $17.47 million for the 2020 FSF allocation, which the PTA said is $3 million less than what they should receive.

DOE calculates FSF based on the number of enrolled students and the needs of each student, which is known as the “weighted pupil-funding model.” Mayor Bloomberg implemented the FSF formula in 2007 to evenly pool and distribute city, state and federal school funding allocations to DOE schools.

School principals in partnership with a School Leadership Team determine how to allocate funds between educational needs and operating expenses.

Vallone and the PTA said that Bayside High School has faced consistent FSF shortfalls over the last decade. They added that the majority of city schools, particularly larger high schools, face the same issue.

“Despite its name, this program is clearly not fair to our students at Bayside High School and our high schools in northeast Queens,” said Vallone. “Year after year, Bayside High School has proven itself to be among the best performing schools in the city but was shortchanged by nearly 3 million dollars in the most recent school year alone. Strides to bring Bayside High School fair funding are critical to ensure educators have the resources they need to contribute to continued student success and high graduation rates. I applaud the Parent Teacher Association on their call for true equity and I will continue advocacy efforts at City Hall.”

As a result of the funding inequity, the school will be forced to cut the career and technical programs for the upcoming school year. According to the high school, which boasts a 98 percent graduation rate — the third-highest graduation rate for large schools in the city — the programs are a significant draw for the 12,000 annual applicants.

In May 2019, Community Board 11 wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio advocating for an increase in funding for Bayside High School and other northeast Queens schools.

“Community Board 11’s high schools are funded less by the Department of Education under the Fair Student Funding formula relative to other schools with comparable populations. Benjamin Cardozo High School, Bayside High School and Francis Lewis High School are all funded in the 90 percent range, which is still lower than comparable schools,” wrote Community Board 11.

The high school’s PTA said that getting their full share of funding would help in several areas including properly covering operating costs for the school’s high veteran educator population and allowing the school to keep more guidance counselors and student support.

“The DOE has underfunded Bayside High School for more than a decade,” said PTA President Paul Di Benedetto. “That’s not opinion; that’s according to the DOE’s own formula! This year, we’re looking at $3 million less than our kids should receive. The DOE should be rewarding excellence, not penalizing it.”

In a letter-writing campaign to Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Caranza, the Bayside High School PTA demanded 100 percent of funding per the FSF formula. The PTA also sent thousands of mailers to alumni and current parents asking them to join the campaign.

“Other schools get full funding, some get more than 100 percent. Why not this community?” said David Solano, chairperson of the school’s Industry Advisory Council and former PTA president. “It’s a clear case of equity delayed being equity denied. As a resident of Bayside, parent of an alum, and active member of the school’s CTE Board, I find it very troubling that these popular and practical programs are not being funded and may need to be cut.”

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