BK principals sound alarm

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Additional budget cuts will devastate Brooklyn schools, according to local principals.

Administrators in Red Hook, Park Slope and Sunset Park attended last week’s town hall in School District 15 to explain that further budget cuts will affect class size and the future of art and music programs.

With a six percent cut, P.S. 154 on 11th Avenue would lose $200,000, according to Principal Samuel Ortiz.

“That would really be damaging for our school,” he said.

There’s no way for the magnet school to take the cut “without drastically sacrificing class size, personnel, what little arts programs we have, and what little support programs we have” for struggling students, Ortiz said.

M.S. 88 on Seventh Avenue could lose after−school and early−morning programs, explained Principal Ailene Altman Mitchell.

“The first to go will be your after−school programs and any new initiatives, and partnerships you have may be limited,” she explained. “Sometimes, even your physical education programs, there’s a reduction there.”

Mitchell plans to apply for grants that could potentially keep these programs running.

Due to previous budget cuts, “We had to eliminate our after−school enrichment programs,” explained Sharon Fiden, principal of P.S. 230 on Albemarle Road.

Next on the chopping block would be Saturday programs for students and their parents.

Anita De Paz, principal of P.S. 39 on Sixth Avenue, said support services for struggling students could be in jeopardy.

“The children at greatest risk will feel the impact the most,” she said. “We’re going to lose enrichment.”

Under the circumstances, “I’m really at a loss for how to meet the needs of my at−risk children,” De Paz said.

Bob Zuckerberg, the United Federation of Teachers’ (UFT) representative for District 15, said budget cuts forced P.S. 94 on Sixth Avenue to eliminate six part−time teachers who worked with at−risk students.

“P.S. 32 had to collapse a fifth−grade class,” Zuckerberg added. “That may be what happens in September.”

District 15 Community Superintendent Rosemary Stuart took a somber view of the likely possibility of additional school budget cuts.

“Bottom line − there are going to be cuts,” she said. “We’re going to have to make adjustments. It’s not going to be easy.”

Zuckerberg encouraged parents and principals to demand that the city forgo budget cuts.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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