We appeared before the Panel for Educational Policy (replacement for Board of Education) last Thursday night to complain about the impact of severe budget cuts on Jamaica High School.
This was the third time that we have addressed the PEP. Our first appearance before the Panel was back in 2008 when 89 people from Jamaica went to advocate for our school. The second time was in June of that year when three of us went back trying to get more favorable funding for our school. This time, I was accompanied by a colleague as well as my wife and daughter. The meeting was held at an elementary/middle school in Maspeth Queens.
Our main focus was to tell the Panel that it is November and yet we are so short of money that ten of our classes do not have a regular teacher. We find this to be incredibly unsound educationally. Even as we can’t cover our classrooms, the DOE will allow us to hire a replacement assistant principal for one who recently retired. We questioned their budget priorities. We also told the Panel about how records have piled up in the general office as our records’ secretary was excessed and there is no money to replace her. We called it a dire situation.
Our friend Arthur Goldstein, the Chapter Leader from Francis Lewis High School, also addressed the PEP objecting to severe overcrowding that will eventually break his school. We closed our presentation by asking for help for Jamaica so we can alleviate overcrowding in neighboring schools such as Francis Lewis. Hopefully, we will hear a response.
The meeting started at 6:00 p.m. but we were not able to speak until around 9:30 p.m. because the PEP was handling a very heavy agenda. Patrick Sullivan from Manhattan is now joined by Anna Santos from the Bronx in questioning much of what the DOE is doing.
The part of the meeting that was covered by the press was the ravioli controversy. The DOE is paying $3.8 million for a contract with a company to provide beef ravioli to the NYC schools, an increase of 40% from last year. They were the only company who bid for the ravioli contract. Panel members questioned the $3.8 million deal. Go to NY 1 to see video of this.
As for Chancellor Joel Klein, he spent some time outside of the auditorium and hit it off very well with my four month old daughter Kara. If only I had Kara’s personality, Jamaica might actually receive equitable funding from the DOE. We will keep trying.