Today’s news:

$5.3M earmarked for schools

Public schools in Canarsie and East Flatbush are set to receive $5.3 million to lower class sizes and fund after-school programs.

The money, dubbed Contracts for Excellence, is an offshoot of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit. The case found that city public schools have been severely underfunded and ordered the distribution of additional monies.

“We’re in our third year” of Contracts for Excellence, District 18 Community Superintendent Beverly Wilkins explained at a meeting of the local Community Education Council (CEC).

“This year, given our severe economic downturn, we’re not seeing any new monies,” Wilkins noted.

Although the funding allocation will remain the same, it might actually provide fewer services because teachers’ salaries and other expenses have risen, according to the city Department of Education (DOE).

“These are proposed suggestions of how schools are going to use the money,” Wilkins told parents and educators at the CEC meeting. “The purpose of your listening tonight is so that we can gather feedback and comments.”

However, CEC member James Dandridge questioned whether the DOE would truly consider parents’ suggestions for how to spend the cash.

“History dictates that we get the information after the decisions are already made,” he said. “So where is the parent input?”

The DOE says it will use the public’s comments “in refining its final Contracts for Excellence plan.”

District 18, which spans Canarsie and East Flatbush, would receive $5.3 million in Contracts for Excellence funding.

A bulk of the funding would be given to schools to use at their discretion. However, it must be used for specific purposes, such as lowering class sizes.

In District 18, 55 percent of schools opted to use their discretionary funds for before- and after-school programs.

“In order for children to learn, you have to have highly qualified teachers standing in front of them,” Wilkins said.

Approximately 12 percent of schools would use their funds to lower class size, and 26 percent of schools are putting their money toward “teacher and principal quality initiatives,” such as professional mentoring.

Looking at individual schools, three schools in District 18 would receive funding to support full-day pre-K programs — P.S. 66 at 845 East 96th Street, P.S. 208 at 4801 Avenue D, and P.S. 276 at 1070 East 83rd Street.

M.S. 588, 1084 Lenox Road, and M.S. 598, 905 Winthrop Street, would receive money for collaborative team teaching classes.

P.S. 244, 5404 Tilden Avenue, is slated to receive funding for autism spectrum disorder classrooms.

“P.S. 244 got this money because it has a very high number of students with special needs,” Wilkins said.

For a full breakdown of the funding distribution, 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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