Call for Raise in Activity Funds at Budget Hearing
Harold O. Levy released the preliminary version of his budget
for the 2001-2002 school year in the wake of the historic decision
in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit that found the State
funding formula to be shortchanging NYC and thus violating students’
constitutional rights. The public was invited to comment on the
nearly $14 billion budget at a recent public hearing.
In attendance were specific interest groups such as the Council
of Supervisors and Administrators, and the United Federation of
Teachers. Noreen Connell, Director of the Educational Priorities
Panel, spoke about class size reduction and floating teachers.
Karleen Leveille, of Forest Hills High School presented the students’
opinion on the budget: Student Activity Funds (SAF), at $3.50
per year per student, are far too low for the range of extra-curricular
activities students want. Typical schools will have many clubs
and sports, she explained, but SA money typically makes up less
than a third of a high school’s extracurricular budget.
schools fundraise by selling candy outside schools,” explained
Leveille. “You will say that we manage with what we are given,
but we could do so much more.” She made a call for the Board to
offer what students want.
After-school activities are a part of violence prevention, argued
Ann Abrams, a student at Edward R. Murrow High School. “Anyone
involved in after-school activities is having fun. And everyone
is also learning. Learning social skills, like how to talk out
disagreements and work out conflicts,” she said. “I am asking
you to raise the SAF allocation, buying more stock in a safe future
for me and my friends,” she requested of the Board.
From his seat at the Board, student advisory member Spiridon Ardavanis
pointed out that SAF have not changed for the last 25 years. Depending
on the numbers of students, the amount of money given to a high
school for sports teams and clubs ranges from $6,000 to $15,000.
As a result, fewer activities are offered in smaller schools.
In one of the few interactions between the Board and the speakers
at the meeting, Greg Brooks, the newly appointed Brooklyn representative
to the Board, asked students if they would continue to fundraise
on their own if the SAF were raised. All the students nodded,
assuring him and the Board that a rise in SAF would only go to
improve the current situation.
According to the Secretary of the Board, Ron LeDonni, this hearing
was the only time in which the public had an opportunity to speak
on the budget. The Board of Education will now adopt a budget
for official transmission to the City at a future Calendar Meeting.
copy of the preliminary budget is available on the Board’s website
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