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Fed Up Parents Demand State Cough Up CFE Funding

With State Assembly and Senate elections approaching, now is the time to pressure candidates to demand that city schools receive the billions of dollars in aid that Albany has refused to allocate, parents assert. At a meeting of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC), neighborhood activists insisted that the state must finally abide by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) decision – and that local politicians must ensure that it does so. “We need to hold our Assembly people up at the state level,” said CEC First Vice President Derek Booker. During the campaign season, “We have to ask them as a litmus test: ‘Where do you stand on CFE?’” A hot topic throughout the state, the CFE decision found that city schools had been severely underfunded for years. It called for local schools to receive an extra $5.6 billion in operating funds over the next four years and $9.2 billion over the next five years for capital projects. The ruling has been adamantly opposed by Governor George Pataki. He has yet to provide the additional money – his 2005-2006 budget only called for a $526 million increase in school funding – and, last spring, filed an appeal against the ruling, which has been upheld. Without the CFE money, the city has only half of the funding necessary to finance school construction projects outlined in its $13.1 billion capital plan. As a result, the city Department of Education (DOE) is currently deciding which projects to drop. Official decisions will be made by April 1. Many projects specified for schools in District 18, which covers East Flatbush and Canarsie, face being axed. On the list is the creation of a school at East 107th Street and Avenue J. While many of the improvements to the exterior of P.S. 114, 1077 Remsen Avenue, are to be covered by the city, the DOE expected the state to cover work to the school’s playground. Up in the air is the planned upgrade of the sound system in the auditorium of P.S. 208, 4801 Avenue D. Also counting on state funding is the replacement of windows at I.S. 232, 905 Winthrop Street. State-funded auditorium upgrades have been outlined for P.S. 235, 525 Lenox Road. The school is scheduled for replacements and upgrades to its sound system, lighting, and stage controls. With the future of so many projects in jeopardy, School Construction Authority (SCA) President William Goldstein advised parents to contact their state legislators and encourage them to do their part to get the CFE money released. “You need to talk to your legislators about this money,” he said.

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