Many in the Bronx from parents to politicians recently expressed a strong opposition to potential department of education budget cuts that would come in the following academic year.
During a recent CEC 8 meeting on Wednesday, June 17, State Senators Alessandra Biaggi and Luis Sepulveda along with Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Mark Gjonaj all vowed to do what lies within their power to prevent school budget cuts coming in part by the ramifications of COVID-19.
While Sepulveda said that the senate must be “vigilant” in protecting the upcoming school budget, Biaggi continued on to say that her District 34 schools are owed about $46 million in funding as it is.
Also stressing a severe need for federal aid, many of the Bronx politicians that virtually attended the Webex meeting feared for a possible $20 billion budget deficit upcoming without proper assistance, which Benedetto stressed should be coming from Washington.
At a city level, Gjonaj gave assurance to concerned members of the CEC 8, saying, “I’ll continue to fund every single school in my district.”
Angela Torres, who’s on the Community Board 10 youth and education committee chair as well as the P.S 304 PTA vice president also spoke at the meeting in regards to the significance of upcoming financial needs of Bronx schools, fearing budget cuts that escalate to 20 percent.
Shortly after, she along with CB 10 voted to send a letter to Gjonaj, Councilmen Andy King and Ruben Diaz, Sr. that would petition to keep funding for local schools.
In addition to talks about funding, the meeting also began addressing what and how there could be a potential return to classrooms in the fall months.
While nothing has been determined at this time, the DOE is looking into phased and rolling starts as it begins looking at reopening school districts.
This method would bring in portions of the school while administering social distancing protocols as well as students having split schedules during their physical time in schools.
While a proper capacity is still being determined, new building procedures that will likely be put into place would intensely limit staff and student movement during academic days.
There will also be a need to modify transportation such as school buses and implement a much more intense cleaning regimen for buses, though a concrete plan for that was not discussed during that meeting.
Food safety was also a concern on the minds of many educators and a plan is to be worked out on safely serving students food in a post coronavirus, modified cafeteria.
The CEC 8 meeting also discussed mental health in the wake of the world’s global climate and how social workers and other professionals would be utilized for families enduring a heavy mental burden during these intensely trying times.