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‘Innovative’ federal funding%A0benefits Brooklyn yeshivas

Thousands of private school students, mainly in yeshivas, will be getting remedial help in the three ‘Rs’ on the federal government’s dime.

The money comes through the city’s Department of Education (DOE) through a provisionin the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act’s Title I program.

The new services that began last week are worth about $24 million annually, and came after the DOE worked over several years with several Jewish organizations to ensure that yeshivas have the ability to receive instructional tutoring services in reading, writing and math from third-party vendors.

The need for third-party vendors stemmed from the fact that the teachers’ union contract does not allow teachers the flexibility to accommodate the late afternoon hours of a typical yeshiva’s secular studies program.

“A good education is the key to a lifetime of success. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to turn our public schools around,” said Mayor Bloomberg in announcing the initiative.

“We also haven’t ignored the needs of other schools in our city, including yeshivas, which are an important part of the fabric of our City. Even though city government is prevented by law from funding parochial schools, we have taken innovative steps to maximize Title I funding,” he added.

Sephardic Community Association Executive Vice President David Greenfield said the move will affect about 14,000 yeshiva students as well as four Catholic schools and several Islamic schools in the borough.

However, it affects mainly yeshivas as they have duo curriculums and the secular curriculum often doesn’t start until late afternoon when non-union vendors are needed for small group remedial sessions, said Greenfield.

Greenfield said the DOE already awarded vendor contracts through a competitive RFP (Request for Proposals) process to four tutoring firms including Brienza, Catapult, Higherschool and Nesi - all of which have experience in other large cities doing Title 1 work in public and private settings.

The money also comes after a 2007 report on the issue concluded that 30,000 students in Brooklyn yeshivas are missing out on approximately $48 million each year in Title I services which they are entitled to, but not receiving.

“The federal government established a program intended to benefit all struggling students, in both public and private schools alike, yet most yeshivas were not able to take advantage of this program,” said Greenfield. “Now, thanks to the Mayor and the cooperation of the DOE, we can all be optimistic that no student in New York City will be left behind any longer.”

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