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Queens Chronicle

Bayside HS PTA fights for Fair Student funds

Group sends out thousands of mailers throughout NE Qns. in activist campaign

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 11:44 am, Thu Aug 29, 2019.

Is the city effectively punishing high-performing Bayside High School for its success?

Yes, says Parent Teacher Association Co-president Paul DiBenedetto.

He’s leading the fight to get the school 100 percent of the monies that it is entitled to by the city’s Fair Student Funding formula. A system created by the Bloomberg administration, it is still used today by the city Department of Education as the primary money source for most schools.

Bayside’s 98.7 percent graduation rate is the city’s third-highest. Ninety-six percent of students graduated with college credit.

But BHS in recent years has only received 83 to 90 percent of the funding it would be expected to get under the formula, according to City Councilman Paul Vallone’s (D-Bayside) office.

According to the DOE’s website, the school is set to get $17.47 million in Fair Student funds for fiscal year 2020. The PTA says the school is entitled to about $3 million more.

Some other district schools get more than 100 percent of their FSF funding.

“There’s no reason for them to abuse us like they are,” said DiBenedetto, whose son will be a junior in the fall. “They should be rewarding us for our excellence.”

According to the PTA co-president, the school’s budget situation could lead to cuts to its popular Career and Technical Education program, which allows students to take elective courses that help them prepare for their careers.

Bayside High’s success has been a factor in the increase in the values of nearby homes, DiBenedetto noted.

“If our school goes down the tubes because it’s underfunded, it’s going to hurt the neighborhood,” he said.

The PTA is now waging an activist campaign to get Bayside High 100 percent of its FSF money. It’s sent thousands of mailers to northeast Queens homes, directing residents to call Mayor de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan).

The group won the support of Community Board 11, which sent a letter to the DOE requesting full FSF funding for Bayside, Francis Lewis and Benjamin N. Cardozo high schools. It also has an ally in Vallone.

“Strides to bring Bayside High School fair funding are critical to ensure educators have the resources they need to contribute to continued student success and high graduation rates,” the councilman said in a prepared statement. “I applaud the Parent Teacher Association on their call for true equity and I will continue advocacy efforts at City Hall.”

In a statement to the Chronicle, the city DOE defended the Bayside High funding situation and called on the state to put forth more funds.

“This administration has added $4 billion in education funding, including raising the Fair Student Funding percentage at Bayside High School from 84 percent to 90 percent and adding dedicated Career and Technical Education and College Access funding at the school,” a spokesperson said in an email. “We’ll be able to fund all schools at 100 percent Fair Student Funding when the State pays the $1.2 billion it owes the City.”

The spokesperson also noted that the de Blasio administration has spent $800 million since 2014 to bring the Fair Student Funding floor for all schools from 81 to 90 percent.

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