Proposed education cuts cast pall over Mott Haven schools

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed laying off city school teachers in dramatic numbers to compensate for budget shortfalls.

If the cuts are passed by the state Senate and Assembly as proposed, the school districts that comprise Mott Haven, Melrose, Hunts Point and Longwood would not be spared.

The Mayor announced his layoff projections on Sunday, in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s earlier announcement that the state will cut $1.4 billion in aid to the city’s schools for the next fiscal year.

Among other cuts, the Mayor’s administration has it would lay off 15% of the elementary teachers in the city’s District 7, which comprises Mott Haven, the Concourse and Melrose. That represents the highest percentage of cuts to elementary school teachers of any of the city’s 32 school districts.

In Mott Haven, the Courtlandt School, an elementary school on E. 140th St., would take a beating, potentially losing as many as a third of its 53 teachers.  Samuel Gompers Career and Technical High School on Southern Boulevard would lose seven of its 65 teachers.

Ten of the 34 Junior High and Middle School teachers at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology on E. 145th St., otherwise known as MS 223, would be in jeopardy of losing their jobs, but principal Ramon Gonzalez is hopeful the cuts won’t be as extensive as the mayor as outlined.

“I don’t think it’ll get to that point,” Gonzalez said, adding, “it’s all about negotiation.”

Still, he says his teachers have a right to be worried about the threats from City Hall, and should prepare themselves for the worst by completing all their certifications to advance themselves professionally, lest the hammer fall. Gonzalez acknowledges the teacher’s union will be forced to compromise with the city on its contract.

“We’ve been in situations like this before. It’s rally the troops time” he said. “As principals, it’s time to be listeners. I can’t guarantee them anything, which is frustrating.”

Schools in low-income neighborhoods like Mott Haven and Melrose are more vulnerable than others to suffer teacher cuts, due to the high turnover rate among teachers, and the fact fewer teachers have the seniority necessary to buttress them against layoffs, he added.

In District 8, which includes schools in Hunts Point, as well as Soundview and Throggs Neck, 14% of intermediate school teachers would get the axe.

In Hunts Point and Longwood, Banana Kelly High School would stand to lose five of its 27 teachers to the Mayor’s buzzsaw, while the high school with which it shares a building on Longwood Ave, the Holcombe L. Rucker School for Community Research, would lose 8 of its current staff of 24.

The two-year-old Entrada Academy on Fox St., which serves grades 6 and 7, would lose a third of its 27 teachers.

Middle School 424, otherwise known as the Hunts Point School, would take an 18% plunge, from 40 teachers down to 33. MS 48 on Spofford Ave would lose 6 of its 74 teachers.

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