Today’s news:

DOE money ‘out the door’ - Brooklyn parents jeer high-price consultant fees

Frustrated Brooklyn parents lashed out at city officials for putting consultants before schoolchildren.

“The money is going out the door to consultants. The money is not getting into the schools,” Asquith McClean, who has three children in local public schools, said at last week’s meeting of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC).

Parents and politicians are criticizing the city Department of Education’s (DOE) continued use of consultants, as schools lose funding because of the global economic crisis.

Giving money to consultants means less money for school-based programs, McClean said.

“The after-school programs – there are none,” McClean asserted.

After-school programs are necessary to keep kids on the path to success, said James Dandridge, president of District 18’s CEC, which represents schools in East Flatbush and Canarsie.

Dandridge said many parents in District 18 need after-school programs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. but schools can’t or won’t provide them.

“It’s an issue financially” for parents who must find alternative childcare, Dandridge said.

“Some schools resist opening their doors after school. They want to send our kids out at three o’clock,” he continued.

The shortage of after-school programs could be linked to budget cuts.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented a surprising $180 million budget cut in the middle of the last school year, many after-school programs were immediately eliminated because of a lack of funding.

The programs could take a bigger hit this year. As a result of the economic downturn, Bloomberg recently announced that he’d like to cut the public school system’s budget by another $185 million.

In addition to losing after-school programs, schools are expected to limit or eliminate music and art programs and even fire teachers. With fewer teachers, there are fears that class size will increase.

Officials at the DOE say they’ve been helping schools secure grants to bring in extra funding.

In the coming weeks, the City Council is expected to vote on Bloomberg’s proposed $185 million funding cut.

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