Brooklyn schools face potential funding loss under Trump administration

According to a new analysis completed by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) earlier this month, upwards of 1,200 New York City schools could potentially be stripped of significant funding under President-elect Donald Trump’s voucher plan for city schools – a plan that puts Brooklyn’s own Fort Hamilton High school at risk of losing the most funding of any school in the city.

The UFT’s analysis, which details Title I funding for New York City schools for 2016-17, breaks down just how much schools throughout the city stand to lose if Trump’s plan – which would use federal money to finance vouchers for low-income students to attend parochial or private schools – goes into effect. While Fort Hamilton High school stands to lose the most, with $2,564,163 in its Title I entitlement, eight other schools within southwest Brooklyn would also be heavily impacted.

Collectively, those eight other schools (New Utrecht High School, Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, John Dewey High School, P.S. 94, P.S. 169, P.S. 105, Abraham Lincoln High School and J.H.S 220 John K. Pershing) will lose a total of almost $15 million.

According to the UFT, more than 700,000 students — including large high schools in all five boroughs — would face higher class sizes, have fewer teachers and lose after-school academic and enrichment programs if President-elect Trump “makes good on his campaign promise to pull billions of federal dollars away from public schools to pay for private vouchers.”

Solutions and answers will hang in balance, however, until Education Secretary-nominee Besty Devos – President-elect Trump’s choice for the post – secures the position.

“We need to hear in detail from Ms. DeVos — a fervent advocate of vouchers and charter schools — what the administration’s plan is for Title 1, which is specifically designed to aid poor pupils and which New York City relies on to help serve our neediest students,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The damage would spread through the system, raising class sizes even in non-Title 1 schools, threatening academic enrichment programs, guidance, art and music and other services our children depend on.”

According to the UFT, the Trump administration is “on record supporting choice and voucher programs, but has yet to specify where the administration would find the money to start a national school voucher program.”

“If the school system had to make up a $500 million loss of Title 1 funds — money that helps defray the costs of teachers, guidance counselors, aides and administrators — more than these schools would suffer,” added Mulgrew.

While UFT chapter chairs at potentially affected schools such as P.S. 105 note that the loss of Title I funding would impact important initiatives, such as after-school and Saturday programs aimed at the arts and the school’s large population of English Language Learners, as well as make many technology teaching aids “unaffordable,” President of Brooklyn’s District 20 Community Education Council Laurie Windsor isn’t panicking just yet.

“As far as I understand, nothing has been put in place yet and details have not been [ironed] out,” Windsor said. “I think everybody is nervous and making a lot assumptions which is dangerous because we don’t know what it’s really going to be. Like the saying goes, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We’ll have to wait and see when he’s in office.”

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