Today’s news:

Not a penny more to reduce class size

This year, Brooklyn schools will receive the same amount of money as they did last year to lower class size — and not a penny more.

“Given the severe economic downtown faced by the state and the nation, New York State held state foundation aid flat,” according to the city Department of Education (DOE).

Although the funding, dubbed Contracts for Excellence, will remain the same, it might actually provide fewer services.

“The amount of money will remain but salaries and expenses have gone up,” School District 22 community superintendent Marianne Ferrara explained at a meeting of the local Community Education Council (CEC).

A presentation by Ferrara noted, “Impacted by register changes and average teacher salary changes, even schools that allocate the same amount of money year over year to class size reduction activities may experience slight increases in class size or pupil [to] teacher ratio.”

More than $6 million has been allocated to District 22 as part of the Contracts for Excellence funding. Approximately 25 percent will be used to lower class size by keeping two teachers in a single classroom.

“Contracts for Excellence used to be the Campaign for Fiscal Equity,” said CEC President Christopher Spinelli. “The original intent of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity was reducing class size.”

Yet, “only 25 percent of the funds actually went to reduced class size,” he continued. “If we’re spending money for class size reduction, why are 31 children sitting in a classroom?”

“There has been early grade class size reduction,” Ferrara noted.

A DOE official said principals decide how to spend their school’s Contracts for Excellence funding.

With the remainder of District 22’s funding, 38 percent will be used for before- and after-school programs, 33 percent is earmarked for “teacher and principal quality initiatives” such as professional mentoring, and 1.5 percent is slated for programs aimed at increasing student achievement for English Language Learners (ELL).

For a full breakdown of the funding, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/aboutus/funding/c4e/default.htm.

Comments about the proposed allocation of Contracts for Excellence dollars can be e-mailed to ContractsForExcellence@schools.nyc.gov by October 8.

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