Today’s news:

City owes District 26 transfer funds: PTA

"Unfortunately, the city has not provided any of the federal money provided for these students," said Dave Pinzon, co-president of the PTA at MS 172, after an emergency meeting last Thursday in Floral Park

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, students from failing schools are allowed to transfer to any school with a better record that has room for them. District 26 has the highest test scores in the city, and as a result, Pinzon said students had transferred in from all over the city, often incurring long commutes. MS 172 took 31 such children this year, Pinzon said.

District 26 has received additional per-child funding based on enrollment, but Pinzon said the students transferring in often require more resources than those already in place. The new students on the whole had lower scores on standardized tests taken at their previous schools than existing District 26 pupils and thus require more tutoring, Pinzon said. He said they also often need more counseling and social services.

"They have a lot of needs and services they're entitled to," Pinzon said of the newcomers.

The district welcomes the new students, who usually perform well, Pinzon said, but its schools must use their existing budget to pay for the additional services.

"They've always been successful, these children, but don't penalize us," he said. "Not only are our children being shortchanged, the No Child Left Behind kids are being abandoned to us with no resources or funding."

The Department of Education did not return phone calls seeking comment.

City schools were originally told by the department that additional funding would follow the new students one year after their arrival, Pinzon said. But after a department meeting also held last Thursday, Pinzon said the agency told him the federal money, reported to be $200 million, would be available only to Title I schools.

At those schools, a certain number of students qualify for free lunches based on family income. District 26, located in a relatively affluent area, does not meet the requirements and is thus not eligible for the extra money, Pinzon said he was told.

After the meeting, Pinzon, who serves as the Department of Education representative for all of District 26's PTAs, called together local civic leaders, elected officials and PTA presidents for a separate session.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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